Saturday 25th May 2019
The city of Kingston upon Hull got its share of fame in 2017 with its designation as UK City of Culture leading to all kinds of whacky artistic displays and events.
Aside from its infamous autonomous telephone exchange and unique cream telephone boxes, for me, Hull has always been famous for sporting Britain’s most joined up bus and rail interchange appropriately enough called Hull Paragon Interchange.Sited in the northwest corner of the city’s commercial centre adjacent to the main shops, the six platform rail station sits side by side under the same roof as a 38 bay bus and four bay coach station making for what we now like to call ‘seamless integration’ between modes.The Interchange opened in its current form in 2007 after the bus departure bays were re-sited when the St Stephens shopping mall was built next door.
Electronic departure screens are placed above each bus bay as well as monitors listing up coming departures of buses on one screen and trains on another placed over the circulating area.
There are also printed displays showing which bus route goes from which bay as well as an index of places served. Naturally all the information applies to both Stagecoach who run the local city routes and Go-Ahead owned East Yorkshire who operate both locally and further afield. However, one negative is there’s no printed listings of departures or bus timetables at each bus stand which would be reassuring and useful, rather than just showing the next departure or two.At the far end of the bus station are four bays (lettered A to D) devoted to express coach departures as well as a multitude of coach companies picking up on tours and excursions. They were very busy first thing this morning. I reckon it must be one of the Country’s busiest coach departure points aside from Victoria.
Best of all is the Travel Centre at the front of the Interchange.Impressively this includes a TransPennine Express operated rail ticket office on one side……and on the other side counters for Stagecoach, East Yorkshire and National Holidays – proving coach holidays are big business in this part of the world.Because the rail ticket office counters have extensive opening hours it means bus passengers have access to the displays of timetables for both bus companies whereas in many places they’re often locked away behind closed doors or windows ‘out of hours’.But even the bus and coach counter opening hours are attractive – all three were open on my visit at eight o’clock this morning including two people on hand to sell me a National Holiday had I been interested (photographed above).
There’s also a rather swish and colourful Visitor Information Centre in the entrance to the Interchange which has got a brilliant large scale map of the city centre which I noticed was proving very helpful for visitors. I suspect this may be a legacy of the 2017 City of Culture and if so it’s good to see it still thriving although ominously at least one of the staff members was a volunteer, according to the back of his t-shirt.Kingston upon Hull’s Paragon Interchange really is a model of best practice and shows what can be done to integrate both trains and buses under one roof. Long may it continue.
I did find a couple of things to nit pick about though; it spoils the image when bus company staff plaster walls with notices, most of which are ignored by the public, and don’t achieve their objective. I know staff mean well by “putting up a notice”, but it seldom proves effective. Frankly, I doubt anyone wanders over to the back wall for a good read.
Presentation is all important; take the image portrayed by smartcards, for example. Everything invested in their technology is smashed when a notice about them appears in a folded hole punched sleeve!
Another reason I dropped into Hull was to see in the flesh the attractive new livery and branding recently launched by East Yorkshire; and it certainly looked every bit as good as the photographs in the trade press and on social media have portrayed.
The long standing former EYMS livery prior to Go-Ahead’s ownership has always been very traditional befitting the Company’s erstwhile culture and it’s good to see a sympathetic transition evolving to a bright new look for a first class bus company. Some of the former route branding used by EYMS was also an acquired Marmite like taste!
Meanwhile Stagecoach have been using its ‘simplibus’ branding for a few years now for its network of city bus routes.I like the concept but it’s application lacks a certain flair and design expertise. On balance I prefer the ‘citi’ brand used in Cambridge and Peterborough.
It looks like someone came up with a few ‘simpli’ slogans, got them printed, and stuck them up.And some of the single deck rears come across as anything but simple with lots to read as the bus passes by. A multitude of messages makes for ‘complexbus’ if you’re not careful.More positively the Stagecoach colour coded map and timetables for city routes in two leaflets are very easy to follow and understand….
… if a little large once unfolded….…. and it’s also good to see Stagecoach’s X62 route to Leeds now has new double decks and the previous rather naff ‘❤️ your X62’ slogan dropped. However it might be worth making more of this route than just being another strand of the ‘simplibus’ brand; perhaps along the lines of the Humber Fast Cat branded route across the Humber to Scunthorpe which always looks eye catching.The rears photographed below on some Stagecoach buses have a great message for following motorists, if somewhat in your face presentationally. I doubt that anyone would ever be able to read the full message on the lower rear commercial advert, which is just as well so as not to take away from the overall message from the upper image! The overall end result is sadly a bit of a mess.
However, these are rather small nit picky points and all in all I reckon Hull enjoys excellent bus provision and I’m sure the future will be even more exciting with upcoming developments at a bright resurgent East Yorkshire passing what looks more like a traditional Stagecoach by….…..but above all else, whatever the future holds, please keep that paragon of virtue, the Paragon Interchange.
Breich update……Finally, my apologies to subscribers to my blog who receive posts by email at the rather abrupt and non sensical ending of yesterday’s post. The perils of writing blogs on Class 158 trains rattling along tracks in the East Riding and hitting the publish button in error before being ready …. what that ending was going to say … and which I deleted online but include now is ….
Finally a fascinating follow up to the blog about Breich station on Thursday and thanks to everyone who got in touch particularly John who gave this interesting background: “The station was proposed for closure in the late 1990s, but ‘rescued’ by a resident of Breich who had considerable form as a campaigner on local issues. In return for keeping the station open, a timetable was provided specifically for the needs of this individual, a daily pick-up stop at around 08:04 towards Edinburgh, where this person worked, and a daily set-down stop at about 18:37 from Edinburgh. The entries and exits at Breich tracked quite clearly the progress of Breich’s passenger, from full-time employment, to part-time, and eventual retirement. Very shortly after his death, NR proposed Breich for closure. However, station closures have become politicaly impossible in Scotland (see also IBM), which helps explain the amount spent on upgrading Breich, which was non-compliant in so many ways with modern electrification standards.”
How amazing, and many thanks John for getting in touch with that gem which explains the ‘one passenger a week’ in the station use statistics; one wonders what next year’s stats will show now he has sadly died but this campaigning passenger’s legacy of a best ever service for the station lives on.
PS Eagle eyed readers may have spotted a GWR HST disappearing in one of the photographs above. And yes, you’re right it is one and is on loan to Hull Trains but I’m not sure what it was doing leaving the station at 0749 this morning?