Thursday, 19 November 2015

Highfield & Regent's Park to be cut off?

BBC News is reporting that Southampton City Council is looking at cutting some subsidised bus routes in order to satisfy the government's budget cuts.

Particularly under threat are Wheelers W1 and Xelabus X12, which could potentially cut off people in Highfield and Regent's Park.

Age UK criticised the proposals, which is all well and good, but until they start campaigning for bus companies to be correctly reimbursed for accepting pensioners' passes, routes that primarily serve pensioners, like the W1 and X12, will become uneconomical for councils to continue to support.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Christmas & New Year: summary so far

So far we know the Christmas and New Year service changes from four of our local operators:

There's nothing too out of the ordinary so far, but there are a few points to note from Bluestar, our area's biggest operator:

  • The skeleton service on Boxing Day and New Year's Day will run across routes 1, 2, 4, 9, 12, 17 and 18. The New Year's Day service level will be significantly lower than that provided on Boxing Day. In previous years it has had the same service.
  • The newest route, the 17, will be running on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, but the 16 will not.
  • Bluestar 2 will have services running from Southampton into the evening on Boxing Day.
  • On the weekdays between Christmas and New Year, an enhanced Saturday service will run. Most of the enhancements are in the early morning, so for all intents and purposes it's really a Saturday service for most people.
  • As always, no early finish for Bluestar on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.

See Bluestar's leaflet which includes the Boxing Day and New Year's Day special timetables here.

No word yet as to what's happening on First, Salisbury Reds, Stagecoach or Wheelers over the holiday period.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

X11 to leave Hedge End / X14 cut / Round up

Xelabus have announced some changes, which will apply from 4th January. There will be minor changes to the X6, X7, X9. X10 and X15.

The X11 however will no longer serve Hedge End, bring to an end Hedge End's era of three bus operators running between there and Southampton, which of course began when Velvet A was first extended. Interesting that what started as a route extension also ends as an extension, just of another route. First 8 no longer serves the centre of Hedge End or Oaklands, so that leaves these areas to Bluestar 3 for people needing to get into the city. The 3 has had a few cuts of its own in recent years, so the end of direct competition will hopefully make it more viable.

The X14 between Bitterne and Bursledon Tesco is being withdrawn.

Xelabus have also announced their Christmas and New Year arrangements. As the other operators announce their plans, we'll compile them all on our forthcoming changes page.

Wheelers W1 has an amendment from 29th December. No further details yet, but it might just be a suspension of the link to Chilworth Science Park over the New Year.

First have registered some changes to the timetables of routes 7, 12 and 13 from 3rd January. More as we get it.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

First fares fall as Bluestar 17 begins

First have pulled out the big guns ahead of Bluestar 17's launch this Sunday, by cutting most of their fares within Southampton. This is how they're trailing the move on the front page of their website:

A bold move or a last gasp? When the 17 launches that will leave most of First's potential passengers with a Bluestar alternative, so First had to do something in order keep Sotonians' bums on their seats.

As a comparison, FirstDay Southampton's new price at £3.50 is 20p less than Bluestar/Unilink's Southampton Dayrider at £3.70.

Here's a quick comparison of the route networks each ticket is valid on. Here's First's current route network in our city:

A big gap in the middle there. Here's the Bluestar/Unilink network in the city before this Sunday's launch of Bluestar 17, which will add new links to/from the General Hosiptal:

See full details of Bluestar 17 here.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

First E1/E2 timetable fiasco

First have issued a news item on their website about the E1 and E2, which transfer to them from Wheelers from next Monday.

And it has several inaccuracies...

Inaccuracy 1: "The first three E1 morning journeys an will start from Portswood Broadway". A look at the timetable reveals that only the first two journeys will start from Portswood. Whoever wrote the news item didn't notice that one journey (the 0723) is marked schooldays only and the other (0733) runs on school holidays and Saturdays only.

Inaccuracy 2: "The last E1 afternoon journey will also return to Portswood Broadway". While technically true, this doesn't give the full picture. The last two buses continue to Portswood, one of which is an E1 and one of which is an E2.

Inaccuracy 3: The timetables on First's website still incorrectly show most northbound journeys as starting from Boyatt Wood when they actually start from Eastleigh Bus Station.

Here are the accurate timetables, courtesy of Traveline:

Thursday, 1 October 2015

First E1/E2 timetable blunder

First have published the timetables for their version of the E1 and E2 between Eastleigh and Winchester, which they take over from Wheelers as of 12th October.

See the weekday timetable here and the Saturday timetable here.

Smiler52 commenting on the previous post points out that most northbound journeys appear to start from Boyatt Wood rather than Eastleigh:

Well spotted! On closer inspection, the line for Eastleigh Bus Station is marked 'arr' for arrivals, so will only include those journeys coming through from Portswood. All other journeys will indeed start from Eastleigh Bus Station at the same times as the current Wheelers service does (4 mins before the time shown for The Arrow), with the exception of the last journey of the day in each direction, which is axed:

  • 1805 E2 Eastleigh to Winchester - axed
  • 1850 E1 Winchester to Eastleigh - axed

The last bus from Eastleigh to Winchester will be the E1 at 1705 and coming back the last bus will be the E2 at 1800 from Winchester, which will run through to Portswood. All times mentioned are Mon-Sats only.

Traveline has the maps for First's service, but not yet the timetables - clicking on the links for them just shows the current Wheelers service. Traveline's maps however say that First will be terminating on Broadway in Winchester rather then the bus station. First's timetables say Winchester Bus Station. Hopefully this can be clarified before First take over.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

First to run Eastleigh-Winchester

The mystery surrounding Wheelers E1/E2 has been solved. Wheelers run the routes for the last time on Saturday 10th October, then from Monday 12th October First takes over the E1 at least. Here's their official registration:

  • Registration Accepted by SN
  • Starting Point: Southampton, Portswood Broadway
  • Finish Point: Winchester, Broadway
  • Via: Eastleigh, Compton, Twyford
  • Service Number: E1
  • Service Type: Normal Stopping
  • Effective Date: 12-OCT-2015
  • Other Details: Monday to Saturday hourly.

No mention of the E2, so it looks like all journeys will be numbered E1. The fact that both Twyford and Compton are mentioned suggests the route will remain more or less as it is now, albeit with an extension on at least some journeys south to Portswood.

With less than two weeks to go until the change, First's website has no news yet and neither does Traveline. When I looked on Hampshire County Council's website, they didn't bother mentioning it either, even though it's them who made the decision to give the contract for this subsidised route to First.

For passengers between Eastleigh and Winchester, First will be the third operator on this route in ten months.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

16 via Bitterne / E1 & E2 mystery

This Monday sees the big changes to Bluestar 16, which is being rerouted via Bitterne to fill the gap left by First 12, which was withdrawn in the East of the city a few weeks ago. Here's the new route:

See further details and the timetable for the new Bluestar 16 here.

There are also minor timetable changes to Bluestar 18. See the new timetable here.

Some Bluestar fares are changing from Sunday 4th October. Details here.

In other news, there's been no word yet of any replacement for Wheelers E1/E2 between Eastleigh and Winchester, which are currently scheduled to end on 10th October.

The E1 route via Colden Common is already covered by Xelabus X9 from Eastleigh and Stagecoach 69 from Winchester, albeit not via Stanmore or the County Hospital. The E2 route is less well covered with Bluestar 1 providing an alternative between Winchester and Otterbourne (again not via County Hospital or Stanmore) but Otterbourne loses its direct bus to Eastleigh.

Nowhere can I find a clear notice that the E1 and E2 are going, but there's also no mention of what happens to them from 11th October, so for now the only reasonable assumption is that they will be withdrawn.