Tuesday, 23 July 2013

T in the Dearne Valley [2]

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Dual carriageway replaced by contra-flow; bus stop; brow of busy bridge; all quiet. What will it be like when it gets busy?
More (much more?) tomorrow.
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Back to the Dearne Valley and ...

Farewell Magicbus!
Stagecoach's delayed response to the First Bus invasion of the Dearne Valley was to announce its Magic Bus route 22 (or was it X22, or M22?). Originally Limited Stop, then all stops; later with journeys entering the Dearne Valley college on college days ...
... but subsequently not entering the college grounds (even on college days), Stagecoach has struggled to gain the upper hand in this battle of the 22s. But now ...
... the former Magic Bus is integrated fully into the Stagecoach network; is reduced to run every 15 minutes, gains an evening and Sunday service and extends to Barnsley. Intriguingly it is renubered from X22 to  22X  As the panel shows, this gives eight buses an hour between Barnsley and Wath, an increase from the previous six.

The  22X  joins the unchanged  226  and the  222  between Wath and Barnsley as in the fbb map of the new network.
Instead of going direct between Newhill ...
... and Swinton, the   222   returns to Manvers Way and via the College as for the various 22s.

 229  is a route number that disappears, replaced by the new non-magic  22X  and by the new   228  between Rotherham, Woodman Inn, Newhill and Wath. 

 220   is unchanged between Doncaster, Mexborough and Wath but no longer runs to Rotherham. Buses do, however, continue from Wath to Cortonwood, a former colliery site ...
... defended vociferously (and violently) during the Miners' Strikes ...
... but now yet another dreaded "retain park".
Deep joy!
So what has Stagecoach achieved by this re-organisation of its Dearne Valley network, apart from confusing its regular customers, that is!

Firstly, it has integrated the former Magic Bus  X22  into the network by extending it to Barnsley replacing the previous   229 . This also ramps up the competition with First's  22  on that section by increasing a combined frequency of 6 buses an hour to 8. The Doncaster leg remains at 6 an hour whilst Rotherham to the Dearne Valley towns drops from 12 (6 route  X22  , 2 each  220  221  and   229 ) buses an hour to 8 (4 route   22X  , 2 each  221   and   228 ).

The frequency changes are shown in this fbb diagram.
The impression gained from this re-shuffle is that Stagecoach has "given up" trying to dislodge First between Rotherham and The Dearne Valley; Stagecoach has superiority in numbers over most of that section with additional local buses in profusion at the Rotherham end.
But a weekly ticket at £5 (£1 a working day return) is a pretty powerful loss-leader between Barnsley and Wath. First's equivalent fare last Thursday was £10. No contest!

How will First react? A further Dutch auction with fares OR will First buses begin to Jump, for example?
The War in West Melton ain't over yet!

 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 24th July 

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