Monday, 4 December 2017

Bluestar to replace First 12

Passengers abandoned by First with their axing of the 12 from 20th January will not be left stranded after all. This afternoon, Bluestar tweeted this:

On their website, they describe how their 7 will be extended to run cross-city, replacing First 12 from Sunday 21st January 2018. Initially it will use the exact same route that the 12 currently uses, but from February (date still to be confirmed) it will be routed away from Aldermoor Road, already served by Bluestar 17, to serve Lords Hill Way, giving passengers there an alternative to First Three.

Bluestar 7 started on 6th September 2015 as a direct replacement for First 5, which had just been withdrawn between Sholing and the City Centre. It's run without a subsidy from the council either, showing that it can be successful as a commercial route if done properly.

We'll let you know as soon as the timetable is published.

Friday, 1 December 2017

First's Bitterne BOMBSHELL

It's worse than we thought.

We knew the 12 was being axed, but First have announced a whole raft of changes for Southampton, taking effect from 20th January 2018.

Their last major changes took place on 29th October. Something's not right. The main points:

City Red 2: Cut back to only run between Millbrook and the City Centre, the first time part of the City Red flagship network has been cut. City Red 10 was launched on 6th September 2015, competing head on with Bluestar 18. Just weeks ago, on 29th October, it was merged with City Red 2, but now First are giving up on the route altogether. They'll be drinking prosecco in Poole tonight.

The Three: Minor timing changes, but First's incomplete description suggests it'll be rerouted to run via Aldermoor Road (to compete head on with Bluestar 17) rather than Lords Hill Way. This removes the last frequent service from Lords Hill Way, isolating large parts of Lordswood and Lordshill, for whom the times that subsidised Xelabus X11 run simply aren't convenient. This smacks of desperation and cannot in any way be in the interests of the travelling public.

City Red 7: Frequency cut to every 10 mins weekday daytimes. The pdf new timetable that First have uploaded only has the weekday times, so either the 7 is withdrawn at weekends or some astonishing incompetence is on display. First is a huge, publicy traded, multi-national company - surely they can publicise their services better than this.

12: As we already know, this route is being abandoned altogether, ending over a century of SCT/Citybus/First service in Maybush and cutting Oakley Road and Cumbrian Way off from usable public transport altogether.

8, 9, 13: Minor changes and miraculously, the evening journeys on the 9 and 13 as well as the 9's reluctant Sunday service survive, for now.

This shambles reduces First to just one route in Lordshill, which they used to dominate, and just one bus every half hour running direct between Bitterne and the City Centre - this would have been unimaginable when they originally bought Citybus back in the late 90s.

First have a history of slowly winding down their services before abandoning an area. Look what they did in Northampton, Plymouth, Barnstaple, Wigan and Chester. These latest cuts so soon after the October changes make it more likely that Southampton will be next.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Official: First 12 axed / Go Ahead crowned best in country

First have officially registered that route 12 in Southampton will end from 21st January 2018.

This will leave Millbrook without a direct link to the General Hospital or Lordshill, with passengers having to change in Shirley. It will also leave Oakley Road and Cumbrian Way, historically Citybus/First's main route to Millbrook, without any regular bus service, unless there is a change to the route of the 2 to compensate, no indication of which has so far been made.

It will also mean the end of First in Maybush after the 1 disappeared last month. It leaves Bluestar 4 as the only public transport in the area.

The 12 started as a cross city service during First's revamp of June 2013, running through to Townhill Park via Woolston, Merry Oak and Bitterne. At that point it boasted a Mon-Sat daytime frequency of 20 minutes. That was increased to every 15 minutes in June 2014, before it was chopped in half and only the western half remained, as we reported in September 2015. At the same time, the frequency was halved to half-hourly, where it still remains today.

The route's history of course goes back further than that, having been the old flagship 17A route for well over a decade. It was once even operated by routemasters in the Citybus days.

In other news, congratulations to Go South Coast, the Go Ahead subsidiary behind Bluestar, More, Salisbury Reds and Damory, who have won three prestigious national awards, including UK Bus Operator of the Year at the Oscars of the bus world. Maybe just a little bit of that is down to the scrutiny of this blog helping to keep to them on the straight and narrow!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Further Christmas service levels announced

Further Christmas & New Year services have been announced, this time by First, Stagecoach and Xelabus.

Full details of what we know about Christmas and New Year service amendments across the region can be found here.

The main noteworthy points are that:

  • Stagecoach will provide a full Sunday service on both Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
  • First will have no buses running on New Year's Day
  • First Wessex X54 (Poole-Weymouth) is suspended between Christmas and New Year.
  • Activ8: On some days, Stagecoach will run their journeys on this shared route, but Salisbury Reds won't be running theirs

The operators whose Christmas plans we still await are:

  • First Bath, for the sake of the 265 Salisbury-Bath service
  • Wheeler's, but we can assume that they won't run on any of the bank holidays
  • Mervyn's, ditto

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Christmas Day buses / 66 diverted / 64 improved / Flying Santa

Go South Coast (better known as Bluestar, More, Salisbury Reds and sometimes Damory) have announced how they'll be operating over Christmas and the New Year. We've summarised the details on our 'Changes on the way' page and will add other operators' details as and when they are announced.

The main highlights are Southampton's first ever Christmas Day bus service: Bluestar 18 with a special timetable and a route extension to the General Hospital. In Bournemouth, More M1/M2 will also run on Christmas Day, with route extensions to Christchurch and the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

From this coming Sunday, 19th November, Stagecoach have a slight route change to the 66 in Abbotswood, due to Hampshire County Council closing part of Cutforth Way.

Also from 19th November, there's a new timetable on Stagecoach 64 between Winchester and Alton, featuring more evening and Sunday journeys.

Back in Southampton, the flying Santa gimmick thingemy is closing Bargate Street for a few hours every day until Christmas. This means diversions to some journeys on various Bluestar and First routes.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Changes this weekend

It's this Sunday that First have new timetables on most routes in Southampton. See them here.

The main changes are:
Route 1 is withdrawn completely. The last bus ever from Adanac Park leaves on Saturday evening at 1840. Here are the final journeys in each direction on Saturday:

The 2 and the 10 merge into the new 2.

The 7 re-reverses its terminus loop in Townhill Park and Midanbury, resuming the route it used before February. That's clockwise, serving Townhill Park first, then Midanbury. Here's the full list of stops it will serve in the order it will serve them on the terminus loop from Sunday:

Saturday, 7 October 2017

First new timetables / Bluestar fares up

The new timetables have been released that take effect on First Southampton from 29th October. Click the route number to see the timetables: 

2 Millbrook-Thornhill
three Lordshill-Thornhill
6 City Centre-Hamble
7 City Centre-Townhill Park
9 City Centre-Sholing
11 City Centre-Weston
13 City Centre-Harefield

Don't forget that the 1 is withdrawn and that the 10 is being replaced by the extended 2.

Some fares are going up on Bluestar routes 4, 17 and 18 from Sunday 8th October:

City Centre to Millbrook remains at £1.90 single and £2.90 return. There are ways of getting that down however:
  • Route 16/18 Dayrider: £3
  • Southampton zone Dayrider: £3.70
  • Southampton zone 10 Dayriders: £33 on the Key (that's £3.30 per day)
  • Route 18 weekly ticket: £6 (that's 86p per day)
  • Routes 7/16/17/18 weekly ticket: £10 (that's £1.43 a day)
  • Southampton zone weekly ticket: £14 on the Key or the app (that's £2 a day)
  • Southampton zone 30 day ticket: £44 (that's £1.47 per day)
  • 12 single journeys on the Key for £17.50 (that's £1.46 per journey)
  • 24 single journeys on the Key for £33 (that's £1.38 per journey)
  • 36 single journeys on the Key for £47 (that's £1.31 per journey)

As a comparison, First charge a minimum of £2 single and £3 return, but there are ways of getting that down too:
  • FirstDay Southampton: £3.50
  • 5 FirstDays on the app: £15 (that's £3 per day)
  • Millbrook/Route 10 FirstWeek: £6 (that's 86p per day)
  • FirstWeek Southampton: £10 (that's £1.43 per day)
  • FirstMonth Southampton: £39 (that's £1.30 per day)
  • 10 single journeys on the app: £15 (that's £1.50 per journey)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Poole-Weymouth by bus on Saturday: Yes, you can

First X54 between Poole and Weymouth now runs on weekdays only, its last Saturday of operation being that just gone. It is still possible to get to Weymouth by bus on a Saturday, although it is easier (but not cheaper) to get the train:

The Traveline journey planner gave me a journey starting from the railway station, but the X8 actually starts from stand L at Poole Bus Station at 0850. The connection is made at this stop at Tesco in Blandford St Mary:

Buses in both directions on both the X8 and the X12 use the same stop, so it's a good one to use as an interchange. Here's the journey back:

The X8 and X12 (click for timetables) are operated by More and Damory, both part of Go Ahead, so you can use the £8.60 zone ABC Dayrider for the full journey. That price of course includes unlimited onward travel with More at the Poole end.

The Poole to Wareham stretch is served 7 days a week by More Purbeck Breezer 40.

That leaves the bit of the X54 between Wareham and the outskirts of Weymouth with no bus service at the weekends.