04 April 2008

Grimsby cuts

Thanks to an LEYTR member for taking a photo of forthcoming proposed cuts to bus services in North-East Lincolnshire by bus operator Stagecoach, to take effect from 1 June. We understand that the cuts are a direct result in the level of financial reimbursement the company is to receive from North-East Lincolnshire Council, set at 60%. Compare this to the amount Stagecoach depots in Wales and Scotland receive - 74% - and you can see there is certainly to be a shortfall.

Clicking on the image enlarges it enough to be seen. It has been posed by the Unite Union on its noticeboard.

Some of the cuts, specifically re-routing Service 3 via Bargate rather than its current route via Hainton Avenue and Weelsby Road seems to be without justification: 18 minutes is currently allocated for travel between Grimsby bus station and Nuns Corner, far, far more than is currently needed and to then send the service direct between the two points via Bargate will add even more running time. Timings could be tightened but this would only result in additional lay-over time in Grimsby - lay-over time that could be better used in picking-up passengers along Hainton Avenue and Weelsby Road, albeit those travelling free do only provide a 60% rebate to the firm via the local council; but it is 60% of revenue that wouldn't be earned at all if the bus is parked-up doing nothing.

Stagecoach were successful in receiving Kick Start funding from the government to re-invigorate erstwhile services 3F & 4 (that were re-numbered 13 & 14). To then cut all evening Sunday operation of these services seems very untoward. We commented in the pages of the LEYTR at the time (after having a one-on-one interview with Brian Souter) that the new-look 13/14 timetable ironically lessened the Sunday evening frequency of the routes to the worst it has ever been. It could well get even worse...

No doubt the proposition of virtually no late duties on Mondays-Saturdays and categorically no lates on Sundays will do much for staff working practices - how many drivers enjoy late shifts? - and will also allow any staff shortages at that depot to be wiped out in one go. It could be that these planned alterations are merely to call the local council's bluff. Does the diversion along Curzon Avenue (0.3 miles extra) actually cost so much that Stagecoach will really press ahead with removing it? Certainly up to and including the latest Notices & Proceedings document for the Grimsby area the planned alterations have not been registered.

We will have to wait and see and hope a suitable outcome for Stagecoach, its passengers and the local council can be found. The planned cuts are certainly the first large-scale casualty of the recent implementation of the English Concessionary Scheme in the LEYTR area - cuts in which fare-paying adult passengers will lose out. Stagecoach appear to be playing a blaming game with the NELC firmly in its sights, yet is it the council's fault? As we commented in our most recent bus/coach news digest, EYMS Chief Executive Peter Shipp said that complaints from the public will be met by denial from the government who "will try and lay the blame on local authorities and bus operators when it is in fact the government itself which is the cause of this complicated and ill thought-out scheme."