Back on Monday 7th September 2020, the mostly demand responsive CallConnect service in North Lincolnshire was largely replaced by new fully demand responsive service, JustGo. CallConnect had operated in North Lincolnshire in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council, whose brand it is, with most services being operated by Hornsby Travel. JustGo is operated by East Yorkshire from their Elloughton depot and I presume the change is down to a routine retendering exercise by North Lincolnshire Council. JustGo operates Monday to Saturday daytimes, as with CallConnect.
JustGo has some important differences from CallConnect however. CallConnect requires registration and then for journeys to be booked by phone or on their website (an app has just been introduced in the Gainsborough area however). JustGo on the other hand has had an app available since launch in September, with phone booking also available. CallConnect was pay on bus, whereas JustGo has app or phone payments. Concessionary passes can be registered on the JustGo app or by phone when booking.
With CallConnect, North Lincolnshire was divided into zones, with no travel possible from one zone to another. JustGo has done away with these divisions, making journeys such as Saxby to Scunthorpe Hospital possible, although it has added some new divides.
Initially JustGo was quite simple - travel anywhere within rural North Lincolnshire or to and from, but not within, the Scunthorpe, Ashby and Bottesford urban area. One problem with that - the potential to abstract revenue from, and undermine, frequent commercial timetabled services. See the example here of it initially being possible to book a journey from Scunthorpe to Brigg despite an hourly commercial service being provided by Hornsby Travel (and an extra subsidised service every two hours). So a few weeks after launch, four more zones were added, in which travel exclusively within them is prohibited - Scunthorpe to Barton, Scunthorpe to Brigg, Scunthorpe to Messingham and Barton to Ulceby. As with the Scunthorpe Urban area, travel in and out of these zones is allowed, and they are fairly tightly defined around the routes of timetabled services, so whilst Scunthorpe Town Centre is included, Scunthorpe Hospital isn't. Therefore Winterton to Scunthorpe Bus Station by JustGo quite rightly isn't allowed as there is a half hourly timetabled bus instead, but Winterton to Scunthorpe Hospital, not otherwise possible without a connection, sensibly is permitted.
I do wonder if these additional zones are a downside of apps and automation? A person with knowledge of the bus network could use that knowledge to direct travellers onto a timetabled service if available - I presume that is what CallConnect did - whereas for an app to do so presumably requires some IT work?
Whilst the FAQ section of the JustGo website doesn't allude to this, the rural area of North Lincolnshire served by JustGo does stretch slightly beyond the council boundary according to the JustGo website map. Immingham - nearest town for villages like South Killingholme - and Habrough - rail connections available - in North East Lincolnshire are included, as are Brocklesby, Great Limber and Keelby in Lincolnshire County Council's area - possibly 'compensation' to Great Limber for the 250 being rerouted away to replace a North Lincolnshire Council tendered service? Brigg Garden Centre, technically also in Lincolnshire County Council's area is included and Blaxton in South Yorkshire is also covered, providing connections onto First service 57f to Doncaster. These are all sensible extensions beyond the North Lincolnshire boundary. Could Misterton in Nottinghamshire be another worthwhile extension, for bus connections to Gainsborough and Retford? Maybe Doncaster Sheffield Airport as well for employment links?
CallConnect in North Lincolnshire used to provide some timetabled services, with the demand responsive bus 'borrowed' to operate a scheduled service. These were:
- 55: Santon-Appleby-Dragonby-Scunthorpe - Friday Only
- 58: Wroot-Sandtoft-Epworth - Friday Only
- 59: Wroot-Blaxton - Monday to Friday
- 260: Goxhill-New Holland-Barrow-Barton - Saturday Only
Each operated one journey in each direction, designed for shopping purposes, but were withdrawn with the start of JustGo. Aside from schools and college services, the villages and hamlets of Appleby, Sandtoft, Santon and Wroot no longer have a timetabled bus service, whilst Dragonby residents need to walk to the A1077. The 260 has a weekday service operated by Stagecoach; much of Barrow additionally has the 250 to Barton (plus Hull, Grimsby and Cleethorpes) whilst Goxhill and New Holland have a rail service to Barton (and Grimsby and Cleethorpes) as an alternative, albeit the stations are only conveniently sited for parts of each village - likewise Barton station is only well located for some shops in Barton Town Centre.
These withdrawals are disappointing. I wonder if they are down to the lack of cash handling on JustGo vehicles? Borrowing a demand responsive vehicle seems like a good way to provide a 'no pre-booking required' timetabled service when no other financially sensible options are available.
JustGo hasn't quite meant the end of CallConnect in North Lincolnshire. As happened before North Lincolnshire Council got involved with CallConnect, the Lincolnshire County Council service extends into North Lincolnshire where sensible. The Caistor CallConnect service area includes Brigg, Barnetby, Hibaldstow and Humberside Airport, for shopping, rail links, doctors and employment, as well as Cadney and Howsham villages. The Gainsborough CallConnect includes Kirton in Lindsey, which acts as the local small town for some villages in the Lincolnshire County Council area.