Sunday 26 November 2023

Nightbuses return to Hull (for at least 3 months)

Hull City Council are focusing some of their Bus Service Improvement Plan funding on the pre-Christmas period. There are Thursday evening and Sunday daytime park and ride journeys being added to the Priory Park and Ride, along with a £1 fare offer. What is most interesting to me though is the return of Nightbuses to Hull, and not just for December.

From Saturday 2nd December - or technically the early hours of Sunday 3rd December - seven routes will gain a nightbus service until Saturday 24th February as per Hull City Council, or for an initial three months as per Stagecoach. The latter would seem to suggest there is a possibility of them continuing beyond February, but Hull City Council seemingly aren't making any commitments at this stage.

The lucky routes are:

  • Stagecoach Service 5: Hull City Centre to Kingswood Retail Park via the Avenues and Orchard Park
  • Stagecoach Service 6: Hull City Centre to North Bransholme via Beverley Road and Kingswood
  • Stagecoach Service 8: Hull City Centre to Bransholme North Point via Holderness Road, Ings Estate and Spring Cottage
  • Stagecoach Service 13: Hull City Centre to Bilton Grange via Greatfield
  • East Yorkshire 57: Hull City Centre to Asda Bilton via Longhill
  • East Yorkshire 66: Hull City Centre to Hessle via Anlaby Road, Boothferry Road and the Boothferry Estate
  • East Yorkshire 104: Hull City Centre to Cottingham via the Avenues
All services will operate from Hull City Centre only, departing at 0010 and 0110. This standardisation does mean the 5 and 104 will be following each other along the Avenues, and so will the 8 and 57 along Holderness Road. Depending on the service, routes will either start at Hull Truck Theatre or at Alfred Gelder Street.

The return of nightbuses is very welcome, and pretty good coverage of Hull - and some adjoining areas of the East Riding of Yorkshire - has been achieved. There are certainly gaps, but it's an excellent start. Hopefully they are well used and can extend beyond February.

One oddity, service 8 doesn't have a full evening service in East Hull - service 11 operating instead - so will be in the unusual situation of having a gap in City Centre departures between 2020 and 0010.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Return of the C4

What I think is the first service enhancement from North Lincolnshire Council's Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding begins next Saturday - 2nd December. Hornsby Travel service C4 in the Brigg area recommences for the first time in just over three years.

First a brief history. The C4 was introduced on the 7th July 2018 as a Saturday only service in the Brigg area, linking Kirmington, Humberside Airport, Barnetby and Wrawby to Brigg with four services in each direction, and also Redbourne, Hibaldstow and Scawby to Brigg with two journeys in each direction. Some 'counter flow' services omitted certain intermediate villages. This continued until COVID-19 and after being suspended in March 2020. the route briefly returned in Summer 2020 but omitting Kirmington and Humberside Airport. The C4 was withdrawn at the end of August 2020 however, with no replacement.

The 'new' C4 is an improved version. It still operates between Kirmington, Brigg and Redbourne, but now with an additional extension to Kirton in Lindsey plus additional journeys. Between Kirmington and Brigg the 'new' C4 has five journeys in each direction, every two hours and matching the times of the weekday service 4 over this section of route. Between Brigg and Hibaldstow there are four journeys in each direction, with a 'perfect' two hourly service from Brigg; two in each direction extend to/from Kirton in Lindsey.

Overall this is an excellent reinstatement and enhancement. Kirmington, Humberside Airport, Barnetby, Wrawby, Scawby, Hibaldstow and Redbourne regain Saturday bus services, and Kirton in Lindsey gains a limited but usable Saturday service to Brigg. Brigg is a popular shopping destination for many surrounding villages and has a monthly Farmers Market on a Saturday.

Interestingly the C4 uses the exact same number of vehicles as the service 4 extension from Brigg to Kirmington and the 94 between Brigg and Kirton in Lindsey combined require Monday to Friday - one. It is a shame that the weekday pattern hasn't simply been extended to Saturdays, which would also allow through journeys to Scunthorpe to be made from all the villages served. I guess the reason why not maybe driver related? 

If the weekday pattern isn't to be operated on Saturdays, then personally I would have used the 94 service number rather than C4 - the C4 uses the same route as the 94 between Kirton in Lindsey and Brigg, just extended beyond Brigg to Kirmington. However this is a rather minor point - the good news is the C4's return.

Going by, the limited Monday to Friday Hornsby X4 at 0800 from Scunthorpe to Brigg via Lakeside and Scawby, and at 1745 from Brigg to Lakeside via Scawby, will also operate on Saturdays from 2nd December.

Monday 20 November 2023

Where might North Lincolnshire's Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding be spent?

North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) is publishing Enhanced Bus Partnership (EP) meeting notes on it's website. The 14th September notes have caught my attention, with a long list of ideas for how to spend Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) Plus funding.

Firstly the attendance list, to explain some of the abbreviations:

Cllr Tim Mitchell(TM) - North Lincolnshire Council (Chair) 
Cllr Carol Ross (CR) - North Lincolnshire Council (Deputy) 
Kate Robinson (KR) - North Lincolnshire Council 
Heather Barratt (HB) - North Lincolnshire Council 
Dave Skepper (DS) - Stagecoach 
Karl Robinson (KRob) - Hornsbys 
Abigail Burridge (AB) - North Lincolnshire Council

Below are the ideas, published in full. The Saturday services in the Brigg area are happening, more in a future blog post. Otherwise the status of the other proposals are unknown. Two things have struck me here. Firstly the operators are focused on their existing services and are concerned about what happens when Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding runs out. From their perspective that is understandable. Secondly there are no improvements to local services in Scunthorpe suggested. 

1. Bus Disruption Survey. The proposal is for funding for NLC to undertake an in house disruption survey to identify congestion issues. NLC Highways team would also design the work to be carried out. This would lead to junction improvements and would benefit NLC and Operators. DS asked that the proposal be amended to state that operators and drivers would contribute their time as part of the process. The officers and operators would work together to identify hotspots and then commission the work. 
Board Comments – Fully supported to be included in the Scheme. Upper limit £40,000. 
Action – NLC to amend proposal. 
2. New Saturday Service for South and East of Brigg. To implement a bus service to the villages South & East of Brigg on a Saturday. The service is an extension to the existing Monday to Friday route. 
Board Comments - Proposal could be paid by de minimis. Fully supported to be included in the Scheme. 
3. Devolution of Bus Infrastructure.  North Lincolnshire Council currently maintains 761 bus stops and 205 bus shelters across the authority. The purpose of this project is to support town and parish councils with the devolution/transfer of the following types of assets: bus shelters, poles, flags, timetable cases and timetables. 
Board Comments – Fully supported to be included in the Scheme. Upper limit £10,000. NLC inhouse staff to undertake a full survey of assets before transfer to Parish Councils. 
4. Additional Evening Journeys on Service 350. To extend service 350 by adding additional evening journeys. This could potentially see the current 30 minute headway maintained until 20:30 hours from Hull and around 20:00 hours from Scunthorpe. 
Board Comments - To ask operator to provide more information including timetables and costs. 
Action – NLC to ask operator for further information. Updated proposal to be discussed at EP Traffic Working Group. 
5. NLC - Ferry Ward – Additional Bus Services To extend Service 260 to Immingham incorporating South Killingholme, North Killingholme and East Halton and therefore provide residents in the villages with increased choice in Public Transport. DS expressed concerns that the route was unlikely to become a commercial route and would probably not continue without funding once BSIP+ money has ceased. DS and KRob agreed it was better not to promise passengers a service which could not be continued. DS believed that raising the frequency on existing routes would be better use of the funding. TM believed that the route was socially necessary but acknowledged operator’s comments. 
Board Comments - Happy to be included in Scheme with further discussions to take place. 
6. Section 22 Community Transport in North Lincolnshire – 96 and 97 services. The purpose of this project is to continue to provide Section 22 Community Transport on two registered bus routes in North Lincolnshire which operate Monday-Friday. This will require the continued hire of two 16-seater minibuses to provide the current bus services and the maintenance of two ticket machines in order to take payments. The routes are registered with the Traffic Commissioner and are an open service so any member of public can use the services. Board agreed that the modal for rural transport is never going to be commercially viable. More marketing needed around route 97 running to isolated villages whilst not having impact on commercial services. TM confirmed that North and East of Isle need to connect to 399 to Doncaster and more work around the timetable is needed. KRob worried about what would happen when the services are taken off but happy to progress. 
Board Comments - Happy to be included in Scheme. 
7. Procurement of New Back Office System for DRT. The aim of the project is to apply for a funding for the feasibility study and procurement of a back office system to manage the DRT service in North Lincolnshire. The current software isn’t offering alternative journeys, availability and advance booking and is in need of new software. DS told the Board that other authorities usually tender for the whole service and not a separate service for back office systems with a number of different suppliers available. Some bus operators have commercial agreements with app providers, which can offer a better overall price for DRT tender submissions to local authorities. 
Board Comments – Agreed not to implement the proposal into the Scheme 
Action - Consider further at EP Traffic Working Group. 
8. Extension of 350 service to Hull. 3 x bus services an hour run in and out of Barton Monday to Saturdays, 2 x 350 and 1 x 250 with extra 255 services at Wren Kitchens shift changes running Monday to Friday. The issue is on a Sunday. With the first bus to Hull at 10am this service can be full of passengers having to wait an hour for the 11am service. The next one after that is 2pm. The proposal is to provide an extension to the timetable on a Sunday with an 8:10am Scunthorpe to Hull service to alleviate the pressure of the 10am service. CR showed concerns over why a service would be needed so early. DS told the Board that practical issues are contributing to the oversubscribed routes i.e. £2 fare, busy bank holidays. Colder weather may see a decline in passengers but overall the journeys should bring good value for money. 
Board Comments – Happy to be added to the Scheme with further discussions to take place. 
9. Reduced Fares for Young People. The proposal is to enhance the provision of reduced fares for the youth market (aged 16 - 24) by introducing a “Scunthorpe Card” – Weekly and day travel within the Scunthorpe Town Area and a “NLC plus Card” – Weekly and day travel around the wider area of North Lincolnshire. Operators gave an overview of the current concessions available to Young people in North Lincolnshire. They agreed a Scunthorpe Card would be preferred to the NLC Plus Card. Actual concept was considered a good idea, flip side is it will use up quite a lot of funding. More work was needed on the level of discount or price of ticket and how the operator would claim the difference. Concerns were raised around when funding started to run out. DS spoke about the scheme currently running in Hull. 
Board Comments – Agreed to include in the Scheme but required further discussions. 

The 350 changes suggested would potentially lead to wider changes. A round trip takes approximately three hours, so an extension of the half hourly frequency for approximately two hours extra in the evening will probably require additions or reductions in the morning, and/or some later evening services. Likewise on Sundays an 0810 from Scunthorpe to Hull would probably lead to an additional Hull to Scunthorpe service, and if an extra vehicle is used for that, maybe it would do more than one extra round trip?

Friday 17 November 2023

243 goes twice a week

Concluding my look at the first batch of Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funded service enhancements in the East Riding of Yorkshire - there are more due starting in January, including in Beverley and Bridlington - and reference was made in the associated press release to "an additional weekday service 143 between Withernsea and Beverley". Those familiar with the local bus network will know that the 143 operates between North Ferriby and Beverley, and there has been no change to that service. 

However the 243 between Withernsea and Beverley does seem to have gained a Thursday service is addition to it's existing Tuesday service, as per There was a change to the 243 registered in September, for which I couldn't find details off at the time, so I presume that is when the Thursday service started. The 243 is operated by Holderness Area Rural Transport (HART) and provides passengers from Withernsea, Roos, Burton Pidsea, Sproatley, New Ellerby and Skirlaugh with three hours in Beverley. Sproatley and Skiralugh are also served by the 242 Beverley 'shoppers service' Monday to Saturday.

Monday 13 November 2023

Old Goole Service 1 gains Evening and Sunday Journeys

One of the Goole Town Services - the 1 to Old Goole - gained a limited Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday daytime service from 5th November, as part of East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding enhancements. The new journeys appear to be interworked with service 55. The 1 is operated by East Yorkshire Buses.

On Friday and Saturday evenings the 1 has two circular trips from Goole North Street at 1925 and 2130. On Saturdays due to no evening peak Goole Town Service being provided, there is a gap in departures from Goole North Street to Old Goole Cottingham Street between 1600 and 1925, and from Old Goole Cottingham Street between 1525 and 1940. 

On Sundays three circular roundtrips are provided from Goole North Street at 1115, 1315 and 1515.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Service 55 Improved

It's fair to say that bus services from Hull to Brough and destinations east have taken a bit of a battering in the past couple of years. Various attempts at a second hourly service between Hull and Brough have been abandoned, while late evening and Sunday services were withdrawn. All journeys between Elloughton and Goole are now subsidised I believe. 

There was some good news though last week, when on Sunday 5th November a revised timetable was introduced on East Yorkshire service 55 between Hull, Brough, Elloughton, South Cave, Gilberdyke, Howden and Goole. The service operates approximately hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes and early evenings between Hull and Elloughton, with hourly extensions to Gilberdyke off peak, and further extensions to Goole four times a day.

Focusing first on the 'core' Monday to Saturday service and the 1720 from Hull to Elloughton now extends to South Cave. This is a small but notable enhancement, as the last service from Hull to South Cave was previously at 1410. There is no morning peak journey into Hull, but the 1720 provides more options for shopping and/or other leisure related trips.

Now to the headline enhancements, as part of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funded improvements - new Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday daytime journeys. For both the evening and Sunday enhancements they operate as two separate services, one at the Hull end of the route and one at the Goole end.

Starting with Friday and Saturday evenings; at the Hull end of the route a 2145 Elloughton to Hull and 2300 Hull to South Cave have been added; last journeys previously 1930 Elloughton to Hull and 2025 Hull to Elloughton. Not a huge volume of extra journeys, but enough to facilitate an evening out. A very welcome improvement. South Cave is in the unusual situation of going from a last bus from Hull at 1410 to a last bus at 2300.

Meanwhile at the other end of the route, there are now Friday and Saturday journeys at 1845 from Gilberdyke to Goole, 2025 and 2225 from Howden to Goole, 2000 and 2200 from Goole to Howden and 2300 from Goole to Gilberdyke. Again here very much facilitating evenings out, and a welcome addition to the network. It is interesting to note that there is no evening peak service between Gilberdyke, Howden and Goole, so there are approximately four hour gaps between the end of the off peak service and the start of the evening service.

Looking at the timetables and it is a shame that the 1720 from Hull to South Cave does not run through to Goole on Fridays and Saturdays - incorporating the 1845 from Gilberdyke to Goole. This would provide a later last bus service from Hull to North Cave, Newport, Gilberdyke, Eastrington and Howden for marginal extra mileage. Alternatively the 1840 Elloughton to Hull could start back at South Cave. Also could the 2300 from Goole extend beyond Gilberdyke, even if just to Newport? It presumably is heading 'dead' back to Elloughton depot.

Moving onto Sundays, there are new journeys at 0930, 1230 and 1530 from Gilberdyke to Hull, returning at 1100, 1400 and 1700. From Gilberdyke to Goole there are departures at 1030, 1230 and 1430, returning at 1145, 1345 and 1545. Overall these journeys provide basic Sunday shopping and leisure links and again are very welcome. Plus once again, it's a shame the first service into Goole and the last return don't serve Newport at least en-route from/to Elloughton depot.