Sunday 23 April 2023

Hornsby April 2023 Changes

During April Hornsby Travel have made some minor amendments to their network. 

From Monday 3rd April the evening peak X4 from Brigg to Scunthorpe at 1745 Monday to Friday was truncated 'short' at Lakeside Retail Park - there is a 1740 service 4 from Brigg to Scunthorpe. On the 'flip side', the 1750 service 12 'short' from Ashfield to Ashby at 1750 is extended to Scunthorpe Bus Station Monday to Friday only "due to customer requests". There were also some very minor retimings to service 6 between Scunthorpe and Ashby and service 399 between Scunthorpe, the Isle of Axholme and Doncaster.

Then from Monday 17th April new service X399 was introduced between Scunthorpe Bus Station and Doncaster Frenchgate Interchange, stopping only at Scunthorpe Tesco Extra. There is one journey each way Monday to Friday at 0630 from Scunthorpe, returning from Doncaster at 1740 with a journey time of 40 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening. 

A fast Scunthorpe to Doncaster service might seem like an opportunity with the current state of Transpennine Express rail services between the two locations and maybe that has played a part in Hornsby's thinking with the X399. However during college terms times the X399 is probably intended to primarily function as a positioning journey for service 'JLC 3' between Doncaster Frenchgate Interchange and the Scunthorpe Colleges. There is a little bit of effort by not just running direct between the Ashby depot and Doncaster, and certainly a bigger commitment is being made to the X399 by running it during college holidays - I can't regard the X399 with one journey each way as a significant attempt to offer a rail alternative though. Let's hope some people find the X399 useful however.

Saturday 22 April 2023

Thornes 'hand over' Service 1 after 71 Years

East Yorkshire took over operation of the tendered Thornes operated journeys on service 1 between Holme on Spalding Moor, Bubwith, North Duffield, Hemingbrough and Selby last Monday - 17th April (Arriva operate on service 1 on college days as well, but to a different route). Thornes had been providing a Monday 0930 Holme to Selby journey followed by a 1020 Selby to Hemingbrough 'short' and a 1300 Selby to Holme; the same provision was also offered on a Friday except the Holme services were truncated to operate between Bubwith and Selby only.

With the new timetable East Yorkshire will be offering a Monday and Friday 0930 from Holme to Selby and 1300 return, providing a new Friday link from Holme to Selby. I say will, as due to temporary restrictions at Bubwith Bridge, East Yorkshire services are currently operating between North Duffield and Selby only. The 1020 Selby to Hemingbrough 'short' has ended, presumably a depot positioning service for Thornes that is no longer required.

Whilst on one hand this is just routine retendering, it does end 71 years of Thornes operation on service 1 - a detailed history has been written up by Bus and Coach Buyer.

Sunday 16 April 2023

Hull to York now every half hour

In contrast to my previous, rather downbeat, post about East Yorkshire services within Hull and the immediately adjoining areas of the East Riding, one long distance 'corridor' from Hull operated by East Yorkshire saw a very significant increase from Sunday 2nd April (or more accurately the timetable changed on the 2nd, but the 3rd saw the big increase). That 'corridor' is the one to York via Beverley, Market Weighton and Pocklington which has been increased from hourly to half hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes. A welcome but 'bold' move in the current climate, although it should be noted the increase in frequency is only on the Hull to Market Weighton section.

Prior to these changes the X46 operated hourly between Hull and York Monday to Saturday daytimes, diverting to serve the three towns of Beverley, Market Weighton and Pocklington en-route, but otherwise operating directly between the two cities. Service X47 provided a limited evening service, with later journeys operating Friday and Saturdays only and unlike the X46, the X47 additionally served Hull University, Cottingham, Barmby Moor and Wilberfoss. Then on Sunday daytimes the X46 and X47 each operated two hourly for an approximately hourly service combined.

Monday to Saturday daytimes the X46 remains hourly, but is now joined by an hourly X47, albeit no longer serving Hull University and Cottingham; serving Barmby Moor and Wilberfoss villages is the only differentiator between the two routes now. Towards York the X46 is 7 minutes quicker, but due to layover in Pocklington there is no difference in journey times in the opposite direction; presumably East Yorkshire want even interval departures from York and on the Pocklington to Hull section. Evenings and Sundays remains largely as previously, but with the X47 following it's new route omitting Cottingham and some minor retimings.

Looking in more detail and I mentioned earlier the frequency increase was only between Hull and Market Weighton - that's because the new Monday to Saturday daytime X47 replaces the 46 between Market Weighton and York. The 46 had operated hourly between Market Weighton and York via the X47 route other than within York were it served the University of York and Heworth before terminating in York City Centre on Station Road rather than at the Station itself. In many respects the X47 is an improvement, with it's links to Beverley and Hull plus it's more direct route in York and serving York Station - however it means the loss of links to the University. The University link has been around a number of years so it's a minor disappointment in a largely positive set of changes. This should be the norm and not noteworthy, but credit to East Yorkshire in their service change announcement for referring University customers to a connecting First service - route 67 from Hull Road in York. Likewise they have also signposted their Heworth passengers to First and Yorkshire Coastliner for travel into York City Centre. 

The 46 hasn't been entirely axed however - five trips a day had extended to/from Holme on Spalding Moor and the 46 survives as a Market Weighton to Holme on Spalding Moor local service, reduced to four services each way and timed to connect with the X46 or X47 at Market Weighton. Considering there is also the 18 between Holme on Spalding Moor and York (albeit currently impacted by the Bubwith Bridge closure), this seems a fair service. However taking the 46 in isolation, there seems to be a lot of spare time in the schedule - 0732 to 0930, 1002 to 1130, 1202 to 1420 and 1437 to 1735 - and nothing obvious to interwork with other than schools services. Could the 46 vehicle and driver be more heavily utilised? Maybe not between Market Weighton and Holme on Spalding Moor, but perhaps extend the 18 to Market Weighton and add a second vehicle (from the 46) to the service? A Monday to Saturday Market Weighton-Holme-Selby service, or perhaps reinstate an all-day Monday to Saturday Market Weighton to Driffeld service?

Talking of Market Weighton to Driffeld, and the last remnant of the 45 between Bridlington, Nafferton, Driffield, Market Weighton, Pocklington and York was 'killed off' as part of these changes - the 1635 from Bridlington and 1905 return from York Monday to Saturday. The X46/X47 replace between Market Weighton and York, there is a 1640(Mon-Fri)/1625(Sat) service 121 from Bridlington to Driffield and on Friday and Saturdays only a 2032 121 from Driffield to Nafferton. Service 145 between Driffield and Market Weighton gains an additional 1650 departure Monday to Friday. 
Between Hull and Beverley, the new Monday to Saturday daytime X47 restores a fourth service per hour, with the four routes involved - 23, 121, X46 and X47 timed to operate every 15 minutes combined. Hull to Beverley frequency has fluctuated between three and five services per hour in recent years, so maybe four per hour is about right?
What has struck me though is that now half the services - X46/X47 operate through open countryside between Hull and Beverley via the A1079 - whilst 'only' half operate through the villages of Dunswell and Woodmansey were there is very little open countryside. There is very little time benefit to the A1079 route, only 3 minutes compared to the 23 off peak. I get that East Yorkshire want the X46/X47 to be as similar as possible, but personally I would swap the X46/X47 with the 23, to send the X46/X47 via Dunswell (and Flemingate), with the 23 covering Victoria Road in Beverley and the A1079 (it could still serve Flemingate).
Whilst focusing on the southern end of the X47, the re-routing away from Cottingham removes the only evening and Sunday service into Beverley, as well as the ability for a Sunday dayout in York. This is another minor disappointment, but I do understand the rationale. Routing via Cottingham added an extra 5 minutes on Sunday daytimes compared to the A1079 (potentially more Monday to Saturday daytimes), and retaining just on evenings and Sundays would mean a third route variant between Hull and York.
Finally then to the Beverley to Market Weighton section, and this is where the 'bold' move has really been made by East Yorkshire - almost 20 minutes, or just over 10 miles, of open countryside other than one intermediate village at Bishop Burton. In the context of the wider Hull to York route it's a small section, but still significant. East Yorkshire will need to grow the traffic from Hull and Beverley to Market Weighton, Pocklington and York for this enhancement to work; as the pre 2nd-April arrangements show us there are alternative ways to supplement the X46 on the more densely populated sections between Hull and Beverley and from Market Weighton to York. 
Whilst you can maybe tell I have some skepticism that this is 'too bold' an increase, especially in the current environment, good luck to East Yorkshire. I hope my skepticism is misplaced and it is a success. 

Monday 10 April 2023

Even Intervals Eroded

On Sunday 2nd April, East Yorkshire revised timetables on a number of routes "to improve timekeeping". In some instances this has meant that 'clockface timetables' or 'even intervals' have disappeared for parts of the day. It's not unusual to see that happening at peak times or even late afternoons, but this is starting creep into morning and early afternoon timetables on some routes.

What has struck me on reviewing the new timetables is how on Saturday's, but not weekdays, services in the Hull area have been particularly affected by this. 

Take the 54 between Hull Paragon Interchange and Willerby, generally half hourly but with 35 minute gaps from Paragon Interchange between 1015 and 1050, then between 1150 and 1225 followed by 1255 to 1330; similar gaps also exist in the opposite direction. The 56/57 combined from Paragon Interchange to Asda Bilton are every 15 minutes from 0815 to 1145, then 1205, 1220, 1235, 1250, 1310, every 15 minutes to 1425, 1445 then every 15 minutes to 1830. Service 66 between Hull and Hessle comes off particularly badly - every 20 minutes, but 25 minute gaps from Paragon Interchange between 0910 and 0935, 0955 and 1020, 1120 and 1145, 1245 and 1310, 1410 and 1435 and 1615 to 1640

Elsewhere there are 35 minute gaps in half hourly services 63, 104, 105 and 154 between Hull and Cottingham and 65 minute gaps in hourly services 152 (Hull to Anlaby) and 153 (Hull to Swanland).

I do have some understanding of the situation being faced by East Yorkshire - rising costs, passenger numbers not recovered post-COVID, driver shortages. Adding extra resource just to maintain the 'status quo' is not an easy proposition. We must also remember that some of these services share parts of their routes with other services; Anlaby Road for example maybe hit by the gaps in the 56, 63, 66, 152, 153 and 154 but collectively there are still plenty of services between those routes and also the 55, 350 and Stagecoach services. 

However these new timetables aren't going to help get passengers back on the buses, or attract new ones. Not only are 'non-clockface' timetables a 'harder sell', there are now notable differences between Monday to Friday and Saturday daytime timetables on many routes. Take for example Setting Dyke mid-morning into Hull on route 63; it was 0950/1020/1050/1120 Monday to Saturday, 1021/1121 Sunday. Now it's 0944/1014/1044/1114 Monday to Friday, 0936/1007/1037/1107 Saturday and 1019/1119 Sunday. 

These changes combined with various frequency reductions over the past three years from both East Yorkshire and Stagecoach and local services within Hull and the immediately adjoining areas of the East Riding have taken a 'battering'. Reducing all day bus lanes back to peak times only isn't going to help though, if anything it will make things worse...

Sunday 9 April 2023

Improved service between Hornsea and Bridlington

East Yorkshire introduced some small but welcome improvements to daily service 130 between Hornsea and Bridlington last Monday (3rd April).

Firstly a new 0815 from Bridlington to Hornsea (arriving 0920) has been introduced at weekends and on weekdays during school holidays. Whilst this is probably just a positioning journey being run 'in-service', it does make morning or full day trips into Hornsea possible - previous first arrival into Hornsea was at 1150.  

Secondly the weekend 1230 from Hornsea and 1345 from Bridlington - now retimed to 1445 - are no longer 'dated' services operating between July and September only, so are presumably now year round journeys. The 1230 is useful for those returning from morning trips into Hornsea, or looking to make afternoon trips to Bridlington. Meanwhile the 1445 gives the option of spending 4 hours 10 minutes in Bridlington rather than 6 hours 40 minutes, which was the previous requirement from October to June. 

Lets hope these extra journeys are a success.