Hull's 2005 and Beyond Transport Mess

Spring Bank Restricted
Overhead railway bridge being altered and involved road closure late 2013 is now sorted out. A new bridge spans the road.
Lowgate Restricted
Click for a map of how to get around the new restricted access for Lowgate
Ferensway closed
Click for map of closure of north bound Ferensway May and June 2006
North Bridge closed
Click for map of closure of North Bridge March to September 2005
Buses dispersed
Railway Humber

Please note that Church Stret, Sutton, has been divided for some time and diversion around Robson Way (the Sutton bypass) is needed.
Queues in Hull are notorious, given the loss of roadspace. Hull's transport situation had been a more significant mess for some time and reached its lowest point in 2005. North Bridge was closed from March, and stayed close until the middle of November, longer than expected. Then the roads were restored with normal queues at rush hours: in May 2006 chaos returned with the closure of Ferensway northbound. The journey south was restricted in part to 20 mph. This has now been restored to normal.
I remember the days of the green wave one way system and few queues. Then came the Clive Sullivan Way, the double bend Daltry Street flyover, and a two lanes each way connector in Castle Street and Garrison Road (partly three lanes) to the A1033 and Hedon Road. Castle Street is inadequate, with a cut-through roundabout (called Mytongate) at its west end, and a series of pedestrian lights leading to traffic lights at its east end.
With that connector, a box system was set up with extended pedestrianisation in the centre. This has meant less road space for through cars, and few alternatives. This box is so restrictive that when part of it fails or is unavailable, it causes massive congestion.
The A1033 east of Hull in an east-west direction has been improved, but it adds to the Castle Street bottleneck. The bottleneck impacts on the large volume of traffic delivered from the Clive Sullivan Way and Hessle Road from the west. When Ferensway north was closed, all the traffic northbound has to go around three sides of the box. Alternative routes were considerably slowed.
The latest wheeze has been to close one of the access points on to the A63. It was a bad place for traffic, but that was because there were so few access points on to the A63 Castle Street. So what did they do? They stopped traffic going across the road. No alternative is signposted - the road cuts the area in two because it is too busy.



In 2007 work took place to end a traffic lights junction that not only allowed people out of the Old Town south of the A63 to go east towards Withernsea, and let people out of the Old Town north of the A63 to go west, but connected up the Old Town across this road. In rush hours the traffic queues stretched back through Lowgate as the road space filled up. So a solution was found - stop the traffic turning and going across. They filled in the central reservation. One impact of this was on me, because coming from the west I turned right to go to roads where parking was free and for two hours, to then walk to Princes Quay shopping or beyond. This is no longer possible. However, there is a road that goes under the A63 as it rises to go over the River Hull. You would think this route - and it is sensible to cross underneath - would be signposted. It is not signposted at all. So now I go left into Lowgate, go to Scale Lane, turning right, then turn right into what remains of High Street, go under the A63, then turn left at the T junction, drive down and around, and get to that road for parking. Then when it is time to go home, well I just turn left on to the A63. People coming from the east, they can just turn left to park, but then must either go in reverse from my trip afterwards to come out of Lowgate, or alternatively they can turn left and then use the mad traffic lights semi roundabout to effectively do a U turn. What should happen is that the road under the A63 should be better utilised, and the road markings changed, so that in effect Lowgate and the road to the pier become a junction using the underpass. Anyway, it beats paying for parking. Not that I go so often, because of the crippling Humber Bridge return toll.





In 2006 the closure of Ferensway northbound for redevelopment of the bus station and retailing put enormous pressure on the through routes. Bus lanes put in place with the earlier North Bridge closure, and the "bus gate" stopping city centre through traffic, continued to operate and restrict space as indeed they still do.



Clearly if there is an accident on one of the box roads, or the Myton bridge swings open, the queues will be enormously long.
The importance of buses has been emphasised and yet it was in 2004 that the bus station was closed and is still being developed now in 2007.

In 2005 the situation first became very difficult for cars. From March 7th 2005 until November 15th North Bridge was completely closed for repairs. This bridge processed 42000 vehicles a day. Its closure led to even less roadspace, thus the calls for car sharing and extra park and ride provison, with additional bus lanes created and some extended to all the working day.



Despite changes to other routes and a control room to alter traffic priorities, the flow could never overcome other bridges going up and down (closing for ten minutes a time) with high tide and river traffic. Even with North Bridge functional, it only takes one accident on a box road to produce crippling queues.
The importance of buses has been emphasised and yet in 2004 the bus station was closed to be rebuilt and opened in 2006.



The result has been the spreading of bus stands around city centre streets. A "bus gate" was introduced for the daytime at the western end of Victoria Square, thus cutting off the only possible through route within the city centre, forcing cars to keep to the box for a through route (in any case the city centre route only went from box road to box road).
Some people think the dispersed bus stands are better than a bus station, perhaps because the central bus station is on the other side of the eastern north-south busy box road, but even so the stands tend to be out on little used streets and involve an addition to the long walks of Hull centre.
Hull needs transport investment. Hessle railway station needs moving along to the Priory Park and Ride so that a fast link is made from the car park to the city. Car space needs increasing and the grade separated junctions (in effect a high level road) due to come to Castle Street A63 are vital. Dedicated busways would be useful. Use should be made of the admittedly indirect high level railway for passenger use, with some tramline extensions from it to penetrate residential areas. Public transport is not yet swift enough from the car parks.
Coming from south of the Humber, its is best to park at Barton-on-Humber station free car park and get the hourly bus, saving much of the car bridge fee which rose to 5.40 return in April 2006. Don't bother to use the south bank railway from Grimsby to connect because connections between bus and train that should happen at Barton-on-Humber are ignored by both bus and train. The railway is often late or not running, and the buses get stuck in Hull traffic as desperate drivers block up bus lanes. The bus journey is still slow, however, when what is needed is an express. What is really missing is the 1930's idea for a railway bridge across the Humber.



People are already car sharing over the bridge (this is why people park all day on the A1077 just off the Humber Bridge roundabout) due to the cost, but this is not a congestion charge but a debt charge (in fact a congestion charge would not work in Hull: the box routes are through routes from other towns and villages; the traffic is effectively excluded by cul-de-sac in the city centre and now Lowgate is severely restricted). The Humber Bridge toll for running costs would be about 1.10 return, not 5.40. There is talk in June 2007 of application for a toll holiday, a period of five years that would lead to tolls of 1 not 2.70 (which are due to rise in 2008). The one express bus service (X1 'Humber Flyer') to Grimsby hangs on, with an extra stop at Keelby; this bus service used to connect to Scunthorpe and Sheffield via an imaginative three way connection at Barnetby Top and later Humberside Airport, but that stopped. Strangely the Hull bus to and from London continues to go over the Humber Bridge, and unlike the once Grimsby express unreliably stops just off the Barton roundabout assuming it takes the South Ferriby route to Scunthorpe. When National Express booking clerks mistook Humber Bridge South for Humber Bridge North, and gave Elena the wrong ticket for her return to Portsmouth in January 2006, the driver on the bus nearly went to Scunthorpe (next stop) via the dual carriageway and motorway. Public transport in this area is unreliable and under invested. It is local evidence of continued national failure.

 

Hull City Council
East Yorkshire Motor Services (Buses)
Stagecoach (Buses)
National Express (Coaches)
Humberside Airport
Network Rail
Hull Trains
Ferries

 

Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful