Sunday, 1 July 2018

Summer seasonal services

Each summer, several seasonal services reappear, making days out to beauty spots and tourist attractions accessible to those of us without a car.

Today, the South Downs Rambler, which last ran in 2015, starts again between Winchester and Petersfield. It's run by Bluestar and provides three return trips each Sunday and bank holiday until 2nd September. See the leaflet here.

One service not returning this year is the Beach Bus 99, which usually replaces the More 112 between Hythe and Lymington for the summer season. Bad news for anyone wanting to visit Beaulieu. But if Lepe Beach was your destination, then you're in luck because Bluestar 9 will have certain journeys extended beyond Langley to Lepe Beach between 22nd July and 1st September. See the special timetable here.

Bluestar/More's New Forest Tour gets going again from 7th July until 9th September. Open top buses will criss-cross the forest from Hythe, Ringwood and Lymington on the following circular routes:

More's Purbeck Breezer routes have already converted to summer mode with extra buses on routes running between Bournemouth, Poole, Sandbanks and Swanage.

Things are looking less rosy if you like shopping at Whiteley Village. The Saturday shopper service First W1 from Fareham has already been withdrawn and the W2 from Warsash will stop running after next Saturday 7th July. Anyone still wishing to get to Whiteley will need to use First 28/28A, but make sure you don't miss the last bus back.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Bournemouth & Poole changes this weekend

There are many changes happening this weekend across Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding areas. Many seasonal summer routes are back.

More have timetable changes to most routes, plus stand changes at Poole Bus Station. Don't forget the R4/R5 are being absorbed into the 14.

Unibus U5 is withdrawn from Saturday. It was only a trial route anyway, the majority of which is already covered by the more frequent U1.

Yellow introduce the summer timetable on the 7, plus a route change on the 36. The B1 to the airport is withdrawn and replaced by the new Jetbus 737.

Looking ahead, Salisbury Reds have made their plans for the summer solstice at Stonehenge. Find out how to get there here.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Clock ticking for First

First have some timetable changes to the 7, 8, 9 and 13 in Southampton from 13th May. Their website says it's a Saturday:

It isn't, it's a Sunday.

Here are the new timetables: 7, 8, 9, 13. Only minor changes.

More interestingly, First announce that all of their Southampton routes will run under the City Reds brand. Presumably the X4/X5 will remain under the Solent Rangers brand, run from the Fareham depot.

This isn't as unusual as it may seem. Bluestar started off as a premium sub-brand of Solent Blue Line, that was then extended to the whole network. The same in Bournemouth, where More was once only applied to premium Wilts & Dorset routes, while More is now the name for Go South Coast's whole network across Bournemouth & Poole.

What it does however is make First's Southampton operations easier to split off from the rest of First, especially now that the costly travel shop in Pound Tree Road has been closed.

How likely is that to happen?

Ah, that likely. Passengers in East Anglia, dominated by First, are already worried. For us in the South though, what could it mean?

Go Ahead wouldn't be able to buy on competition grounds and of the other big groups, only Stagecoach have operations nearby onto which Southampton could be tagged. RATP, the Parisian regional transport authority and owner of Yellow Buses in Bournemouth, can't be ruled out, but they seem to have their work cut out in Bournemouth - they've just reversed an entire network revamp just over a year after it was introduced.

The other option is another arm of the French state: Transdev. They have extensive operations in Lancashire and Yorkshire, currently run by no other than Alex Hornby, who used to run Solent Blue Line. I wonder whether he's feeling a little homesick? Would there be enough money to be made pour les taxpayeurs de France?

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Days out from Romsey / More changes / X15 reduced / D1 for Bath

New days out are made possible by two new Sunday services that combine to run between Romsey and Andover. Stagecoach 77 will run between Andover and Stockbridge, with a free bus provided by the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership adding the link to Romsey. Full details here. They will both run on Sundays and Bank Holidays from 6th May until 23rd September. Attractions the new services make accessible include Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop and Danebury Hill Fort.

More have new timetables on most of their routes from 27th May. Also, routes R4/R5 are absorbed into an expanded route 14. Unibus U5 is withdrawn from 26th May.

Xelabus X15, also branded as Shopper Connect, has a new timetable from 14th May. Unfortunately it's being cut from six to two journeys each way on weekdays only.

First 265 between Salisbury and Bath has been rebranded as of today as the D1, part of First's new Discover sub-network centred on Bath.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pound Tree Road travel shop: GONE!

The First travel shop in Pound Tree Road in Southampton City Centre closed for the last time on Friday. First chose to notify passengers by issuing this message on ... err ... Friday. There's been a travel shop from First/Citybus/SCT on Pound Tree Road for decades, since long before privatisation. Can anyone remember when it originally opened?

First are steering people who used to use the travel shop to their website and app, which is fine for those of us comfortable with the technology, but some people will inevitably be left behind.

Southbourne Buses launch the S40 this Tuesday. It's a once-weekly shoppers' service from Ferndown via West Moors and Fordingbridge to Salisbury. See the timetable here.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Yellow B1 clings on / Bluestar upgrade

Yellow Buses' full network change came in this weekend just gone in Bournemouth - full details here and here. The lettered 'lines' have been abandoned in favour of simple route numbers.

The Bourne Line is now the 4/4a for example... except for when it isn't - the B1 is still running until 26th May when it will be replaced by new Yellow service 737 - yet another route number for Bournemouth Airport.

The council contracted routes that had been integrated into the 'lines', such as the Dolphin Line and Heath Line revert to their old route numbers 18, 33 and 36. More have taken over the 20 (which was half of Yellow D1) and the R4/R5 which keep their 'line' era lettering until the end of May when they'll be integrated into More 14.

More 32 has also has a slight route change.

In Southampton, Bluestar 1 and 2 are improved from this coming weekend. The 2's headline daytime frequency increases from every 20 to every 15 minutes and there are more evening journeys from Southampton to Eastleigh. The 1 has a few new journeys too plus posh new buses that are simply too nice to use on a route that doesn't go through Chandler's Ford.

Monday, 12 March 2018

New timetables in Bournemouth & Winchester / Summer starts for Weymouth & Marwell

Yellow Buses' network is completely reworked in Bournemouth and Poole from 8th April, with every route changing back to conventional route numbers. See the new timetables here. It looks like More are taking on the R4 and R5 routes, which are being abandoned by Yellow.

Stagecoach have new timetables on most of their Winchester routes from 25th March. See full details and the new timetables here.

Also on 25th March we have a timetable change to First X54 (Poole-Weymouth) and their entire Weymouth network.

Plus, First M1 (Southampton-Marwell Zoo) relaunches for the summer season from 30th March. First don't think you're interested in the timetable yet, as it isn't on their website, but you can see it on Traveline here.

See a summary of all changes on the way here.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Yellow numbers to return

Last January (2017), Yellow Buses revamped their entire network throughout Bournemouth and Poole. Route numbers were replaced by lettered 'lines', with the routes identified by a letter and a number. The burghers of Bournemouth have spoken and from 8th April this year, many of the changes are reversed. The lettered lines are replaced by numbers again, although some of them will still have 'a' versions (1a, 4a etc).

Here's how the new network will look from April:

Compared to the current network, this is slightly cut down. Bournemouth Airport is cut off from public transport and West Moors loses its Yellow link. Some of the council-funded routes are up for retender, so Yellow might retain them or they could go to another operator depending on what the councils decide.

Here's the current network, running since September 2017:

This is what the current lines looked like in April 2017:

Before the lines were introduced, this was how the numbered network looked prior to January 2017:

Timetables will be out in a few weeks, but the frequencies for the new routes are shown here.

At the same time, the Route One ticket is being withdrawn, which will present fare payers on some routes with a price rise.