Thursday 20 August 2020
The last time I took a ride on East Yorkshire’s open top bus service along Scarborough’s seafront was in May last year, just before the lovely bright new Beachcomber brand was rolled out, so it was nice to make a return visit on Tuesday and see the Best Impressions designed makeover in the flesh.
It’s been quite a makeover.
East Yorkshire started up this years Covid delayed seafront service on Saturday 18th July. It’s a three bus operation running, every day, every 15 minutes between 09:40 and 20:17.
The buses are fifteen year old Wright Gemini bodied Volvos which have seen arduous service in London before their new life in the sunshine on the North Yorkshire coast.
As you can see from these photos the beautiful Beachcomber livery really is attractive and as Ray Stenning is often heard to say: ‘creates desire’.
It just shows how an attractive livery can hide the age of a bus amazingly well.
The power of good design.
There’s a £5 day ticket reduced to £3 for children and concessionary passholders and a family ticket for £12 available on Beachcomber. The route follows Scarborough’s seafront road from North Bay to South Bay.
There’s a simple route diagram on the sides of the buses and as a slightly confused visitor not knowing where The Sands or The Spa, as listed in the timetable were, I wonder if it might work better if the locations listed in the timetable married up with those on the bus?
I’d also rather see two separate directional timetable blocks (northbound and southbound) rather than the current continuous layout and perhaps include a timing point at ‘Newcastle Packet’ which is the main stop in the middle of the route.
Scarborough’s seafront service has been hotly contested for a number of years and Shoreline Cruiser Buses Ltd were also back out again this summer from 18th July with their Dennis Tridents including this 1999 vintage which previously operated open top tours in Edinburgh before being acquired in 2016 by Shoreline.
Bus stop timetable displays were in evidence along the route …
…. although I did spot one of Shoreline’s last year’s still on display at one stop, which initially led me to wonder whether they were back on the road this year.
Shoreline are ending the truncated season on 30th August with East Yorkshire continuing a week longer, until 6th September.
Scarborough has an ideal seafront for an open top service and the bright Beachcomber livery really does make the buses stand out and entice you to take a ride. I hope the next couple of weeks are a success for both operators.
More generally, Scarborough’s buses are looking very attractive as the new livery is applied to more of the fleet. It’s just over two years since Go-Ahead bought the East Yorkshire business and it’s noticeable how the new livery is now dominant with less in the former EYMS livery now seen around town.
There’s a real coastal theme to bus branding in Scarborough with East Yorkshire’s routes 12/13 to Filey and Bridlington marketed as Coaster since April last year …
… while Transdev Blazefield’s route 843 from Leeds and York has had distinctive Coastliner branding for many years.
Arriva’s popular X93 to Whitby and Middlesbrough continues to use the MAX brand…
…and was attracting good custom on Tuesday morning.
Before leaving Scarborough I had time to admire the splendid large scale network maps displayed in bus shelters outside the station which include details of East Yorkshire’s Sacrborough bus routes as well as Transdev Blazefield and Arriva’s routes.
These really are excellent and so helpful for the many visitors and tourists attracted to the town as well as local residents.
I’m sure they’re not cheap to produce but the availability of information like this is essential if you want to attract passengers, as opposed to my next esperience in Hull ….
I took the train down to Hull to catch up with East Yorkshire’s most recent rebrand, introduced last week on route X46 between Hull and York (as well as route 45 between Bridlington and York). The routes have been upgraded with eight smart new ADL Enviro400 buses reportedly costing £260,000 each and entering service in another brilliant Best Impressions livery incorporating a new ‘EastRider’ brand.
My train arrived into Hull at 12:23 with an X46 leaving at 12:30 but I knew train and bus connections are conveniently all under one roof at Hull’s Paragon Interchange so would make for an easy seamless switch, easily achieved within seven minutes.
Except I didn’t know which departure stand the X46 leaves from, and there are a lot of departure stands at the Paragon….. 41 at the last count.
I remembered from previous visits posters are displayed further down the side wall with information but otherwise you have to rely on the electronic screens above each departure stand showing what’s departing in the next half an hour or so. There are no timetables or static displays by each stand.
Unfortunately the electronic screens were out of action so there was no alternative but to rush down the whole bus station concourse looking out for an X46.
Except the bus station designers unhelpfully included a large bar running right across the very spot where the bus route number and destination could be seen.
It’s simply impossible to see where a bus on each stand is going while on the concourse; you have to approach each departure door and strain your neck to look up.
Seven minutes can quickly fly by when you’re rushing around trying to find the correct stand from 41 alternatives. It was no good asking in what used to be the excellent multi modal Travel Centre…..
… it was all closed up – and indeed Stagecoach have recently announced they won’t be back.
Luckily after a while I found a member of staff who told me the correct stand and only then did I spot temporary posters have been added to the stands.
In the event my bus didn’t pull on to the stand until almost 12:35 so for a few minutes I wondered if I’d missed it while rushing up and down. Luckily it was just five minutes late leaving.
Once on board I did some research and found an article from the local newspaper in August 2019 from a passenger complaining the signs had been out of action for a year.
That means it’s now two years. What on earth is going on?
The hourly X46 EastRider takes around two hours for the end to end journey to York and I was interested to see a group of four took advantage of one of the four tables on the upper deck to travel the whole journey as well as another solo passenger who had no social awareness that playing media on his smartphone on external speaker is annoying to other passengers – luckily he sat towards the rear and I was at the front, so it only proved annoying when the engine cut out.
The buses include comfortable seats with a bright red and black moquette incorporating the now usual smartphone holders, bell pushes and usb sockets. Icomera wifi is available although my phone wouldn’t connect.
I was a bit surprised ‘next stop’ displays and announcements had not been specified (just a standard ‘bus stopping’ sign) …
…but the main innovation with the specification of these buses is a pull down cycle rack for two bicycles sited on the offside of the lower deck.
It’s an interesting development – something Border Buses began last year and I wrote about in May when introduced on their route X62.
I’m not yet convinced it’s a good idea. There are enough issues with wheelchairs and buggies on buses and it seems an unnecessary complication to add bicycles into the mix.
Aside from four tip-up seats, the lower deck seating is reduced to 23 and if you ignore the eight seats over the rear wheel arches and the five rearmost seats in front of the engine, which are not ideal for those unsteady on their feet to access, it reduces the lower deck capacity to just ten ‘ordinary’ seats. That seems too few to me.
As is becoming the norm these days, the buses also feature cameras instead of rear view mirrors for the driver.
It may be eight new buses are still being commissioned for service but on Tuesday we passed two older buses out in service on the X46, so if I’d had my bike with me, attracted by the excellent publicity for the facility on the bus sides, I’d have been annoyed at having another hour to wait for the next bus. This was an issue when the facility was first introduced by Borders Buses.
I also wonder whether on a wet day it’s really fair on passengers sitting in the lower deck to be in the vicinity of wet bikes bringing a slip hazard into the bus.
My final concern as a BikeRider passenger would be if both bike spaces had already been taken when I came to get on the bus with my cycle and consequently having to wait for the next bus.
I know active travel is all the rage and buses and cycles need to find common ground but as I see it, it’s one of those initiatives which if a success at encouraging bikes could soon be a victim of that success being of no use to cyclists left behind due to no space available, while also limiting space for non cyclists and parents with buggies.
Bikes aside, the bus gives a very comfortable ride and they really do look desirous.
As does the whole East Yorkshire fleet in its new colours.