Thursday, 17 April 2014

Saturday, 12 April 2014

W3 and R1 to go / New Velvet route / First revamp 1st June

Let's have a summary of changes on the way:

Wheelers W3 is set to be withdrawn from 22nd April. Boyatt Wood loses its direct link to Southampton, but the rest of the route is already covered by other services.

Wheelers W1 gets a new timetable on the same day. Some journeys are diverted to serve Chilworth Science Park. See the new timetable on Traveline.

Wheelers W2 gains an additional weekday afternoon journey from Southampton to Hiltingbury.

First have timetable and route changes to several routes from 1st June. The R1 is put out of its misery and there are changes to routes 2, three, 4/4A/X4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13.

Velvet launch a new route on 4th June: the 15B4 will connect Bitterne with Bursledon. Could it be a free bus to Tesco?

See an always-updated list of changes on the way here.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Marwell Zoo bus resumes

Velvet is still with us and from Saturday their route M starts up again for the summer, providing a direct link between Eastleigh and Marwell Zoo. Full details and timetable here.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

W56 launches this Thursday / 300 and night buses cut

Hamble, Netley and Hedge End gain a new market day link to Eastleigh from this Thursday. Wheelers W56 will run more or less to the same route as the old First 56 which was withdrawn back in April 2012. It runs only on Thursdays but does restore an additional link to Eastleigh for the market. Full details here.

This Saturday 5th April is the final day of running of Velvet 300 to Ringwood and also Velvet's night buses N6 and N8, all without replacement. If you need to get to and from Ringwood after Saturday, then National Express is your only option, but they do run several times a day.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hythe Ferry & several bus routes under threat / Diversion confusion

Hampshire County Council are looking to save more money by cutting subsidies to several bus routes. The Hythe Ferry, which has run continuously for the best part of a millennium, is also under threat. The Daily Echo has compiled a list of all the routes under threat here. Once decisions are made, we'll keep you informed of which cuts will hit where.

First have advised of a diversion to several of their Woolston routes, due to the closure of Central Bridge. But hang on, don't all of Woolston's buses (with the exception of the 5 via Chapel) run via Ocean Village rather than Central Bridge? First's route map certainly seems to think so:

No word from Bluestar on this road closure, because presumably they've checked where their 3 runs.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Velvet to vanish? / Totton evening buses diverted

Last week, the Daily Echo carried the following headline on their website:

But the story was quickly denied by Velvet on their Facebook page:

This later story in the Echo explains what has happened. Velvet wanted to sell, Xela wanted to buy. A deal was signed, but then Xela exercised their right to withdraw from the deal at the last minute. This now raises the question of whether Velvet is still for sale and who else might be interested.

In other news, there are evening diversions to Bluestar's Totton services for three weeks. Services away from Southampton won't serve stops on Waterloo Road, at Millbrook Station or on Millbrook Road West as far as Regents Park Road after 8pm each night. Buses will divert via Shirley Road, Park Street and Regents Park Road. Routes 8, 9, 11 and 12 are affected, but journeys towards town are not. Ignore that, the roadworks have been indefinitely postponed.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Bluestar & Xelabus changes this weekend / Ringwood cut off again

This Sunday 23rd February sees new timetables on Bluestar 1, 2, 8, 9 and 18. Bluestar's night buses will run for the last time this Saturday night.

Some Bluestar fares are changing, including period tickets. Bluestar however remains the last major operator in our region not to publish full details of single and return fares on their website. I never thought First would beat them to that, but they have.

Xelabus have new timetables on all of their routes from Monday, but you can't find them yet on their website. They are on Traveline, but the 'new' timetable there for the X3 is wrong. The X3 is being cut back to only run on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Looking ahead to April and also being withdrawn are Velvet's night route N8 and the 300 to Ringwood. Neither will run after 6th April. Ringwood then resumes its status as being cut off from Southampton's bus network. National Express still provide direct journeys by coach.

After 6th April, the only remaining night bus routes will be Unilink U1N, which is being extended to Eastleigh, and Velvet N6.

Monday, 17 February 2014

First fares crystal clear

First revamped their fares in Southampton a couple of weeks ago, but I've only just discovered the extent of what they have done. On their website, you can find this:

...and this:

Between them, those two images allow you to work out the single or return fare for any journey with First in and around Southampton. The whole city and surrounding areas have been divided into just 14 fare zones. The simplified matrix makes it easy to see what the single fare is for any journey based on which fare zones it starts and finishes in.

They deserve praise for this. I'm not aware of any other First subsidiary making their single and return fares so transparent to the passenger. Here in Southampton, they now join Velvet and Unilink in being totally upfront with potential customers about how much a journey will cost them.

This leaves Bluestar and Salisbury Reds, who provide patchy information about single fares, Wheelers, who provide fares info for route W1 only and Brijan Tours who provide no fares information. The pressure is surely on them to catch up now.

Looking at First's single fares, most of the city can be reached from town for just £2 single. Weston, Sholing and Lordshill zones are the exception at £2.50. A cross-city journey that remains within the city boundary will cost no more than £3. Crossing the city boundary, there's a maximum single fare of £4.

This information will help people decide whether or not it is worth buying a day ticket. See the full range on their website. Here's a summary of the ones that First flogs and the prices for an adult ticket:

FirstDay City: £3.20 - valid within the dotted line on the map above or the pink area on this map.
FirstDay Southampton: £4.20 - valid on the whole Southampton network including Hamble & Hedge End.
FirstDay Hampshire: £5.90 - valid on all First buses in Hampshire.
FirstNight: £3 - valid after 1900 on all First buses in Hampshire.
Solent Travelcard: £7.50 - valid on buses of almost all operators in the zone shown here.