Sunday, 11 July 2021

Megabus replaces the X62

In June, Stagecoach commenced a new Megabus link between Hull and Leeds, mostly as part of various longer journeys. Taken from timetables, there are either four or five journeys each day, spaced over the whole day and suitable for commuting as well as leisure - although I suspect I've missed a Tuesday and Wednesday journey from Leeds in the below:

From Hull Paragon Interchange

0700 M15 (Not Sunday), extends beyond Leeds to London via Manchester, Birmingham, Reading and Heathrow Airport

0900 M36 (Saturday Only)

0935 M12 (Not Saturday), starts at the University of Hull at 0900 and extends beyond Leeds to London via Meadowhall and Leicester Fosse Park

1155 M36 (Tuesday, Wednesday only)

1215 M36 (Not Tuesday and Wednesday), extends beyond Leeds to Bristol via Manchester, Manchester Airport and Birmingham

1515 M36, starts at the University of Hull at 1445, and extends beyond Leeds (apart from Tuesday and Wednesday) to Coventry via Manchester, Newcastle Under Lyme and Birmingham

1745 M36, operates via Goole Airmyn Road and extends beyond Leeds to Manchester

From Leeds City Bus Station

0705 M36 (Not Sunday), operates via Goole Airmyn Road and extends to the University of Hull Monday to Friday only

1010 M36, starts from Manchester

1240 M36, starts from Cardiff (Not Tuesday and  Wednesday), operating via Bristol (starting point on Tuesday and Wednesday), Birmingham and Manchester, and extends to the University of Hull

1610 M36 (Not Tuesday and Wednesday), starts from Bristol, operating via Birmingham, Newcastle Under Lyme and Manchester

1735 M12, starts from London Friday and Sunday only, operating via Leicester Fosse Park and Meadowhall - otherwise commences in Leeds - and extends to the University of Hull on all days of the week

Journey times between Hull and Leeds are 75 minutes off peak. As can be seen, the new Megabus links also serve the student market at the University of Hull, where Megabus may have an advantage over the train or National Express in that students can board at the University rather than needing to travel into the City Centre.

A 'short' market (for a coach service) between Hull and Leeds - and even more so between Hull and Goole - isn't one I'd necessarily associate with Megabus. Other than when they initially started, in England at least, Megabus has largely focused on longer distance markets. Whilst most journeys do form part of a longer distance network, there are also some shorter workings, a Goole diversion at commuting times and some of the longer distance destinations offered are 'one-directional', indicating end to end demand isn't the primary target.

What seems to be happening here is an attempt to combine some off Stagecoach's X62 passenger base between Hull and Leeds, with some longer distance demand from Hull (hence the use of Megabus over a 'short distance') plus an attempt to get some Hull commuter traffic. As per the Stagecoach East Midlands twitter feed last month, the X62 isn't coming back now the new Megabus services have started. It was suspended in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and never resumed.

The X62 offered three journeys between Hull and Leeds Monday to Friday, four on Saturdays and two on Sundays, with a timetable focused on serving the Junction 32 retail and leisure complex and Leeds daytrippers. End to end journey times were just under two hours due to serving North Ferriby, Brough, Goole Airmyn Road, Eggborough and Junction 32 en-route.

Megabus provides a better timetable between Hull and Leeds, with notably faster journey times, but for the intermediate destinations the X62 is essentially withdrawn without replacement (as Megabus in Goole is aimed at the Hull commuter market instead). Brough has the train to Leeds as an alternative (but Goole's train to Junction 32 and Leeds is also aimed at commuters rather than daytrippers). I'm surprised Junction 32 isn't being served by Megabus as it would 'double up' as a 'parkway' type stop for Castleford and Pontefract, plus is located just of the M62, so would only be a minor diversion.

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