Friday, 20 April 2018

Stagecoach Re-Jigs Greyhound Bridge Timetables

Skerton Bridge has had two-way traffic since January
Stagecoach has confirmed what has been apparent to bus passengers for some time: the traffic congestion following the closure of Greyhound Bridge - and the diversion of west and northbound traffic over Skerton Bridge - has not been as bad as everyone expected.

Acting on the advice of Lancashire County Council Stagecoach added extra running time to most of its Lancaster services from 29th January and drafted in additional vehicles and drivers to maintain frequencies. Cross-river services were split at the bus station to prevent delays at Skerton Bridge affecting reliability in the south of the city. No help was forthcoming from the county council for the extra costs involved despite  requests from the company and the Bus Users' Group.

The extra running time combined with the relative lack of congestion led to two
Hopefully the new arrangements will
see an end to scenes like this.
unfortunate side effects. Outbound buses, if they left the bus station on time, were arriving early at their first timing points and having to wait, sometimes for considerable periods, until they could proceed.  Meanwhile inbound buses, despite having left their previous timing points on time were getting back to the bus station early, which lead to the departure stands becoming clogged with buses that shouldn't have been there and, when all stands were full, queues of buses waiting to enter the station.  The extra buses in the station meant that departing
Stagecoach has had extra staff on duty to help.
buses couldn't always leave from their allocated stands causing passengers to miss their buses on occasion despite the best efforts of drivers and inspectors to alert them. Your writer had a number of near misses himself!


But Stagecoach management has been well aware of the situation and has now announced that from 22nd April new timetables will be introduced to put things right. Most of the additional running time allocated to services that cross the river has been removed meaning that not all the extra vehicles are required and the congestion in the bus station should be reduced.  The changes appear to have been brought in at short notice, with the usual 56-day notice period being waived by the Traffic Commissioner.

On service 2/2A (University - City - Heysham) buses on the City to Heysham leg were given an extra 10 minutes to complete their journeys in January. This has now been reduced to just 2 additional minutes in most cases. On Monday to Saturday evenings (but not Sundays) the through service between the University and Heysham is restored, although this is shown only on the "U2" timetable with that for the 2/2A continuing to show buses as terminating in Lancaster!  The 20-minute headway between Heysham and the University at night is also restored and late journeys from Lancaster now all run through to Heysham Towers up to and including the 0038 from Lancaster (0010 from the University).
The new timetables are:
2  City - Heysham
U2 City - University*
* Details of the through evening service between University and Heysham are shown only on the U2 timetable.

Service 2X (Lancaster - Heysham By-Pass - Heysham - Battery) has had a seven minute reduction in running time on journeys towards Heysham and a 6 minute cut for buses towards Lancaster.
New Times:
2X Lancaster - Heysham - Battery

Service 3/3A (University - City - Heysham): Buses from Lancaster towards Morecambe and Heysham were given an additional 8 minutes in January, an allowance that has now been cut to 3 extra minutes over the normal times.
On the City to University section (numbered U3, or U3R for buses via the railway station) the timetable has been re-issued to make it clear that there is a service from the station through to the University as well as in the opposite direction, something the previous version failed to do.
For the first time, the two short workings towards the University that start at Greaves, Belle Vue Terrace are now shown in the timetable ("Belle Bue Terrace" is a typo!)

Only the journeys which start there at 0830 and 0841 are shown as calling at Belle Vue Terrace, although as the stop is, of course, served by all buses on the U3 / U3R as well as every other bus on Scotforth Road!  If you are not sure where this stop is, it's the stop called "Greaves Hotel" (named after a now-demolished pub) on your ticket if you travel to or from there!  
There continue to be separate timetables for "University Term Times" and "University Holidays" on these services although there is no indication anywhere as to when these term times and holidays are! (A fault that also applies to the U2 and U4 timetables).
New times:
3/3A Lancaster - Morecambe - Heysham
U3 / U3R  Lancaster - University

Service 4 (University - City - Higher Heysham) buses have also lost 5 of the extra 8 minutes running time between the City Centre and Torrisholme that they were given in January.
New times:
4  Lancaster - Heysham

Service 6 (Morecambe - Westgate) and  6A (Lancaster - Westgate  - Morecambe).  In January, 6A buses got an extra 13 minutes to cross the river, more than any other service. This has now been reduced to 7 minutes and a further 3 minutes has been saved on the next stage to Asda. The through journey time is now 42 minutes as opposed to 51 in January and 38 before the bridge closure. Buses will leave Lancaster at 15 minutes past the hour and return from Morecambe Bus Station at the same times.  Because the 6A interworks with the 6 (Morecambe - Westgate ) and forms part of a standard 15-minute frequency between Westgate and Morecambe the times of the 6A have also changed.
New times
6 / 6A  Lancaster - Westgate - Morecambe

Service 7 (Lancaster - Vale).  Buses to and from Vale have had 5 minutes cut from the round-trip time, which means that they now have 10 extra minutes per round-trip than they did before the bridge closure.
New times:
7 Lancaster - Vale

There are no changes to city services 10 (Ridge), 11 (Marsh) or 18 (Williamson Park). Inter-urban services 40/41 (Lancaster - Preston) and 42 (Lancaster - Morecambe) have only minor changes, mainly the reintroduction of some early morning and late evening through journeys from or to Morecambe).   On services 80 (Ingleton) and 81 (Kirkby Lonsdale) just 2 minutes has been cut from off-peak journey times and 5 minutes at peak times although there are more significant changes to the 0655 from Ingleton, which will arrive Lancaster at 0803 rather than 0820 and the 0710 from Kirkby Lonsdale, which will reach the city 17 minutes earlier at 0822.
New times:
40/41 (Morecambe - Lancaster - Preston)
42 (Lancaster - Blackpool)
80 (Lancaster - Ingleton)
81 (Lancaster - Kirkby Lonsdale)

Not mentioned in the Stagecoach Service Update, there are also changes to the following services.
49 Lancaster - Halton - Carnforth - Warton: Buses from Warton / Halton to Lancaster will arrive at Lancaster Bus Station 5 minutes earlier than previously. Times at other stops are unchanged and buses from Lancaster to Halton and Warton are not affected.

55 Lancaster - Hest Bank - Carnforth: Buses leaving Lancaster between 1550 and 1730 have had 2 minutes cut from the running time to Beaumont Bridge. Curiously, the 1610 Lancaster to Carnforth runs 2 minutes earlier between Beaumont Bridge and Hest Bank but the arrival times at Carnforth and Over Kellet differ depending on whether one looks at the 49/55 timetable page (Carnforth 1647, Over Kellet 1704) or the joint 55/555 pages (Carnforth 1652, Windermere Road 1704). Either Stagecoach has mastered the art of having buses in two places at once or the timetables were done in a bit of a hurry! (The BUG is loathe to criticise however and realises that timetable compilation and publication is a much bigger job than it might seem to the outsider!)

Journeys into Lancaster on the 55 have had reductions in running time of 2 to 3 minutes in the morning peak and late evenings (except the 0725 from Carnforth which continues to arrive at 0757) whilst off-peak journey times are reduced by up to 12 minutes.
New times: (and thanks to blog reader Peter Brown for finding them)
49 Lancaster - Warton
55 Lancaster - Carnforth

The Bus Users' Group hopes that these changes will alleviate the problems experienced by passengers due to buses having to stop and wait for time during their journeys and also that most buses will now be able to use their correct stands in the bus station.  We will be keeping an eye on things and letting Stagecoach now what we find.

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