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Beachcomber and EastRider riden

Thursday 20 August 2020

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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.

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It’s been quite a makeover.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Bus stop timetable displays were in evidence along the route …

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…. 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.

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Shoreline are ending the truncated season on 30th August with East Yorkshire continuing a week longer, until 6th September.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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… while Transdev Blazefield’s route 843 from Leeds and York has had distinctive Coastliner branding for many years.

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Arriva’s popular X93 to Whitby and Middlesbrough continues to use the MAX brand…

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…and was attracting good custom on Tuesday morning.

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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.

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These really are excellent and so helpful for the many visitors and tourists attracted to the town as well as local residents.

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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.

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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.

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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…..

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… 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.

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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.

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That means it’s now two years. What on earth is going on?

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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.

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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.

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I was a bit surprised ‘next stop’ displays and announcements had not been specified (just a standard ‘bus stopping’ sign) …

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…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.

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It’s an interesting development – something Border Buses began last year and I wrote about in May when introduced on their route X62.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bikes aside, the bus gives a very comfortable ride and they really do look desirous.

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As does the whole East Yorkshire fleet in its new colours.

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Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.

18 thoughts on “Beachcomber and EastRider riden Leave a comment

  1. For a good while Scarborough had a sort of pseudo company running it’s buses and East Yorkshire used the name Scarborough and District.upon the break up of United the Scarborough and Pickering depots became Scarborough and District which East Yorkshire bought but kept using the Scarborough and District name.i don’t know what happened to the Pickering depot I assume long closed down? United used that depot at Pickering as a sort of bus station.well with the huge increase in rainfall is there any point in open topped buses for the few occasions that they’ll see proper use?

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    • Scarborough & District was never a company in its own right. It was only ever a brand used by EYMS after the depots were transferred across from United to EYMS as part of the pre-deregulation splitting of large NBC companies.

      Pickering depot on Eastgate is now a carpet shop according to Google Streetview.

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      • Interesting information I’d always assumed that Scarborough and District was a company hived off from United like Northumbria was but it appears that it was just a direct transfer of United’s Pickering and Scarborough depots to East Yorkshire.i often wondered why United’s Ripon depot didn’t get transferred to West Yorkshire since it was very cut off from the rest of United’s area.Ripon’s core services mainly went south to Leeds, Harrogate and York and services to the north where generally very infrequent whereas the United depots nearest Richmond and Northallerton mainly went north to Darlington and with Northallerton having a less frequent service to Middleborough.

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  2. I wonder if cycle spaces could be something for Ticketer to work on with options to set the buses which it is applicable for. You then use the occupancy area to ‘occupy’ the cycle spaces. The data could then be shared into the apps (in the same way that seats available currently is) to help reduce disappointment from cyclists intending on using the bus.

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  3. It doesn’t really help to Create Desire when the bus at York, which is heading to Hull, displays Market Weighton as its destination in large lettering. Let us hope that our departure from the EU will finally allow us to dispense with this archaic and customer-unfriendly habit of ‘pretending’ that the buses on long interurban routes only go half way there.

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    • As with much of the rest of the supposedly-EU-imposed-stupidity, it’s actually the UK government which has insisted on doing this, rather than the EU, so don’t get your hopes up for anything changing anytime soon.

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      • Whilst I’m indifferent to the EU and ‘our’membership of it but it does seem to me that the UK is a mini EU.so the British nationalists harp on about supers states they’ve already got England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales tied up in one.they are quick to blame the EU for say rail privatization and the splitting of infrastructure and the trains running on it but this seems to have originally come from John Major and the EU copied his stupid ideas.as for buses showing one place but are going beyond the timetables claim it’s to do with EU regulations but strangely they don’t all do it for example the long x5 route Oxford Cambridge shows Cambridge or Oxford but the old 66 route, I think it’s the S something or other now?,shows Farringdon for Swindon but it stops in Farringdon for about 2 minutes and goes on same driver same bus,etc.perhap John Major has decided to help with the running of buses having a rest from banning guns,rich grouse shooting types excepted!,but allowing cars to kill and maim whoever they like and privatizating railways ?

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      • I believe the Stagecoach East X5 is operated by tachograph fitted vehicles so doesn’t operate under domestic drivers’ hours rules and doesn’t need to pretend to be a linked sequence of no-longer-than 31 mile (50 km) routes.

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ends up being split at Bedford, as I believe Bedford-Cambridge is now the busiest section of the route and has to be duplicated at times, so is prime for operating double-deckers on; socially-distanced coaches just don’t have the capacity for busy routes, so it makes sense to cover the busiest sector with double-deckers (assuming that’s what will happen).
        Mind you, anything happening at the moment can’t be assumed to be permanent; it might go back to the through service once the COVID-19 restrictions are withdrawn.

        Incidentally, another Stagecoach X5, CNL’s Penrith – Keswick – Workington route, has already been downgraded from coaches, in this case to ordinary single-deck buses, albeit “Gold” standard (not that Gold standard exists anymore).

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      • I’d forgotten about the x5 in the Lake District although I’ve been on it loads of times.at one point there was an x6 as after Keswick some go to Whitehaven and some to Workington there was also one which went via Stainton,a big village just west of Penrith.

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  4. Cycles on buses in my view simply do not work. They take up a lot of the already limited space on the lower deck and can present safety issues particularly when buses are crowded. It is also likely to be a further discouragement to people using buses
    Why do cyclist even need to use buses when most routes are quite short surely they should be cycling and not riding on a bus

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    • “Quite short”? Hull to York is 40 miles even on the most direct route, which is a very busy A-road that would be horrific to cycle on; Google’s recommended cycle route pushes it up to 45 miles. Bridlington is a similar distance. On the Borders X62, it is slightly more manageable, Peebles to Edinburgh is “only” about 25 miles. Those distances are well beyond what most cyclists would be prepared to do, particularly if they are coming back the same day or have luggage as well.

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  5. Quite agree, cycles should not be inside buses. People with disabilities, little humans and shopping should get priority. As a cyclist myself, it would be great but simply not practical. The Swiss attach bikes to the back of their Postbuses. That would maybe work on the more rural routes here. Be interesting to know what research Go Ahead has done on this.

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  6. Kevan,
    Sadly, you picked an unfortunate route as your example of sensible practice. I read elsewhere that the X5 is to be curtailed to run between Oxford and Bedford only, with the Cambridge end to be operated a new route 905.
    The number of exemplars of Through Route Destination Displaying has just reduced.

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  7. I agree with your point Roger about place names not matching up. Sadly this is all too common, for example timetable timing points not appearing on maps, and ‘internal’ references to locations being used publicly.

    I suspect the main issue is that management assume that everyone is local and just knows where places are.

    Inconsistency also applies here, with timetables posted at the same stop often showing different names for the same location.

    Like much in this area, other Europeans do this so much better. Stop names seem to more often be single words, which makes life easier.

    Some operators have started to address this, thankfully. One recent example is First CityRed in Southampton using ‘Fairfax Court’ on destination screens on The Three, but now improved to the more helpful ‘Thornhill’ on re-branded CityRed 3.

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  8. I am puzzled by the X5 comment. As far as I am aware coaches from Cambridge show ‘St Neots for Oxford’, then ‘Milton Keynes for Oxford’, then ‘Buckingham for Oxford’ before finally ‘Oxford ! Of course it may be that substitute vehicles used recently did not have this option?
    Mismatch of names of stops between operator/local authority/Traveline seems fairly common, indeed our local operator used different names for two timing points depending on which timetable you look at! It does not confuse the locals though. Worse is naming stops after pubs that have long gone.

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  9. The swirls and swoops in at least five different colours on the new East Yorkshire livery must be a nightmare for the Painters. And I found little wrong with the previous, albeit a little sombre but dignified, red and cream. And when the Arriva Max livery (soon to be abolished presumably for the new light blue horror show) looks good, I can only presume the “Movers and Shakers” at Stagecoach must be wearing blinkers these days to accept the three nightmare liveries they have chosen.

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  10. By coincidence I’m using the X5 this evening, half way (Oxford to Milton Keynes Coachway) then on from Milton Keynes rail station to Cambridge tomorrow. So I’m glad to be able to do the whole route before its demise!

    I’ve often wondered whether the X5 could serve Cambourne new town, given that it passes so close. But I guess that splitting the route at Bedford is the best solution. A pity the frequencies won’t match though – a recipe for connections not working very well.

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