Sunday 25 June 2023

Late June Round Up

Xelabus will run the X4 (Eastleigh-Hedge End) and X4A (Eastleigh-Velmore) for the final time on Saturday 29th July. After that, they transfer in some form to Bluestar in the form of routes 23 to Velmore and 24 to Hedge End. Hampshire County Council seem to have some involvement, which could mean cuts to the current frequencies. Also, the choice of route numbers mean Bluestar could already have plans for new routes numbered 21 and 22 - more on that as we get it.

Go South Coast (Bluestar, More, Salisbury Reds, Southern Vectis) are dropping their The Key smartcard from 31st July, so if you still use it, plan your alternative.

With First now gone from Southampton, Bluestar increased the cost of the Southampton City zone tickets from 5th June. Dayrider rises from £3.50 to £3.80 and the Weekly ticket rises from £10 to £12. Despite the name, these tickets are not valid throughout the city, only on routes which used to compete with First - full details here.

While we're on the subject of fares, since the start of the year, the government has been subsidising most single bus fares, which are capped at £2. The scheme was initially planned to run to the end of March and was then extended to the end of June. The government have said they're extending it to the end of October, but not all of our local operators have confirmed that they will continue to participate beyond the end of June. Stagecoach are carrying on to October, but First and Go Ahead have not yet confirmed - their websites mention the scheme as ending on 30th June, so be prepared for full price singles to return.

Stagecoach changed some of their ticket prices from last Sunday 18th June. The all zones South Gold Dayrider has been reduced to £8 for an adult. Other local tickets have new prices - see the full details here.

Unibus in Bournemouth are launching a new route, the U5, in October between Lansdowne and Talbot Campus. It will run on Wednesdays only and won't accept cash - only 10 trip tickets purchased via their app, although Unibus annual tickets will also be accepted. The exact route and timetable are still to be revealed.

The New Forest Tour starts again for the summer season on 1st July, for those wanting to enjoy an open top ride through the forest.

From 23rd July, First Wessex launch route X50 between Swanage and Wool. It already runs between Wool and Weymouth, so this is a useful extension. Details of times are still to be released. From the same date there are changes to First Solent F1 between Fareham and Highlands and E1/E2 to Gosport.

30th July sees the cancellation of Stagecoach 95 between Winchester and East Stratton, and of First Solent 12 between Tipner and Fratton, both presumably without replacement. From the same date there are changes to Stagecoach 67 between Winchester and Petersfield, as well as Salisbury Reds R10 and PR15.

3rd August sees a change to Southern Vectis 7 between Newport and Alum Bay.

From 6th August, there are changes to First Solent 7 between Portsmouth and Cowplain.

From 27th August, there are changes to First Solent 2 between The Hard and Paulsgrove.

3rd September sees changes to First Solent routes 7 and 8 through Waterlooville.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Late May Round Up

Don't forget changes to times, routes and route numbers across More's network in Bournemouth and Poole from Saturday 27th May.

In Portsmouth, First Solent's Southsea Coaster returns for another summer season, running along the seafront, from 28th May until 30th September.

From the same day, First Wessex's Portland Coaster also starts for the summer, running between Weymouth and Portland Bill. Details here.

28th May also sees some seasonal changes on the Isle of Wight with Southern Vectis. Details here.

Sunday 4th June sees timetable and route changes across First Wessex. Route 3 gets a weekday off-peak only reprieve for 3 months and an extension to Southill - use it or lose it! People living on routes 9/9A haven't been using those routes enough and they are about to lose them. Details of all changes here and see First Wessex's summer timetable booklet/pdf here.

Looking ahead to the Summer Solstice, those wishing to travel to Stonehenge for the occasion can use Salisbury Reds' special 333 service.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Late April Round Up

With First's demise, it's fallen to Bluestar to run this year's link to Marwell Zoo. Route ZOO runs from Eastleigh every weekend, bank holiday and school holiday until 3rd September.

Many changes are coming across More's network from 27th May, including route changes and renumbering as the former Yellow routes are further digested and integrated. Full details here.

First Wessex have new timetables from 4th June. They are yet to be announced by First, although they have been registered. Expect a shiny new summer services leaflet/pdf to be available soon. Sadly, it does look like routes 3, 9 and 9A will be withdrawn from that date.

Sunday 19 March 2023

Late March round up / Bishops Waltham loses direct buses to Southampton and Eastleigh

Today, Sunday 19th March, sees new timetables on More Breezer 40 and 60 with seasonal frequency increases.

Bus travel within the City of Portsmouth is free on all Sundays in March, with 26th March being your last chance to get a free ride.

From Sunday 2nd April, First Solent 18 has a new timetable and is cut to back to terminate at Southsea Shops, no longer serving South Parade Pier. The 13, 14 and 22 have been reprieved and will continue to run.

On the same day, Stagecoach have a new timetable on the Coastliner 700. Buses from Portsmouth will no longer run beyond Chichester, so if you want to get to Bognor and beyond, you'll need to change buses in Chichester.

A new timetable also from 3rd April on routes 37 Havant-Petersfield and 38X Alton-Cowplain.

Changes are coming to Bluestar's Romsey routes which receive subsidy from Hampshire County Council:

  • 35 Romsey-Braishfield: New reduced timetable from Monday 3rd April. Just one journey a day each way, weekdays only.
  • 36 Romsey-Lockerley: Withdrawn. Runs for the last time on Thursday 30th March. No replacement.
  • 39 Romsey-Nomansland: Withdrawn. Runs for the last time on Friday 31st March. No replacement.

Stagecoach also have some changes from Monday 3rd April:

  • E1/E2 Winchester-Eastleigh: New timetable and E2 rerouted to run direct via Twyford Road instead of via Boyatt Wood.
  • 49 Hedge End-Bishops Waltham: New service to partially replace the withdrawn Xelabus X9/X10 which run for the last time om Friday 31st March. Passengers for Southampton will need to change in Hedge End to Bluestar 3 or 14. Passengers for Eastleigh will need to change in Botley or Horton Heath to Bluestar 3. There's no weekend service, so if you want to get to or from Bishops Waltham then, you'll need to use Stagecoach 69 and change in Fair Oak for Bluestar 2 to Eastleigh and Southampton.
  • 49h Hedge End-Hamble: New service restoring the severed link between Hamble and Hedge End.

More are having a launch event for this year's Breezer services in Poole Park on Good Friday 7th April.

Stagecoach also have several changes to several of their Winchester routes from Sunday 16th April. Amongst other changes, route 1 is renumbered as route 2, to help avoid confusion with Bluestar 1. Timetables are yet to be released.

Easter service levels:

Saturday 18 February 2023

End of an Era: First's Final Day

First City Red operates for the final time today, Saturday 18th February. The very final service they operate will be on route 2 from Millbrook, Kendal Avenue Shops at 2333 to the City Centre, terminating at Vincents Walk at 2355 and bringing to an end the history of red buses in Southampton, with a direct corporate lineage back to the very first horse-drawn trams in our city in 1879. Rather appropriately, it will be followed 12 minutes later by a Bluestar 18 running through to Thornhill.

From tomorrow, Bluestar takes over with six new routes, and significantly improved timetables on most of them, including the reintroduction of evening and Sunday services to Merry Oak and Harefield on route 13. Full details of their new network here.
Their very first new First-replacement journey will be on route 19 from Thornhill, Fairfax Court at 0523 on Sunday morning, towards Lordshill.

In other news:

In Bournemouth, Yellow Coaches, part of Xelagroup, ceased operations earlier this week, so routes 18, 33 and 36 have passed back to More.

First Solent have new timetables on routes 7, 9 and 9A from 5th March, including rerouting the 9A via Nobes Avenue.

Xelabus have advised that routes X9 and X10 are due to be withdrawn on 31st March, subject to retendering by Hampshire County Council. We'll let you know as soon as HCC's future arrangements for the routes are clear.

In a similar vein, First Solent have registered the withdrawal of routes 13, 14, 18 and 22 in Portsmouth from 2nd April, pending a retendering process by Portsmouth City Council.

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Bluestar First replacement timetables released

Bluestar have released the timetables for their six new routes that will be replacing First City Red from Sunday 19th February. The 7 also gains some new evening journeys to Sholing.

  • The last 7 from town to Sholing is currently at 1945 Mon-Sats. New journeys will run at 2045 and 2245.
  • Bluestar 10 replaces First City Red 9, with only minor changes to times.
  • Bluestar 13 replaces First City Red 13. The Mon-Sat daytime frequency is doubled to half-hourly, plus evening and Sunday services, axed long ago by First, are introduced. 
  • Bluestar 14 replaces the Eastern half of First City Red 8. Buses will generally start running earlier and run until later in the evening. The current last bus from town to Hedge End is at 1930 Mon-Sats - Bluestar will run an additional journey at 2130.
  • Bluestar 15 replaces First City Red 6. Minor changes to times include a later last bus on Saturdays, leaving town at 2110, instead of 1950 currently.
  • Bluestar 19 replaces First City Red 3. Daytime frequencies are reduced from every 10 to 15 minutes weekdays, from every 12 to 20 mins Saturdays, and from every 20 to 30 mins Sundays. Don't forget the route change to serve Maybush Corner instead of Warren Avenue.
  • Bluestar 20 replaces First City Red 7. The Sunday daytime frequency is reduced from three to two buses an hour. The last bus from town, currently at 2243, will be later at 0005, seven days a week.
  • There also appear to be some minor changes to existing routes 17 and 18.

Stagecoach 66 has disruption between Winchester and Romsey for the next couple of nights, due to a road closure in Ampfield. The length of the diversion means some journeys are cut, so check this emergency timetable before travelling.

The Blandford Forum to Shaftesbury service, currently South West Coaches X3, transfers to Go Ahead's Damory Coaches from Monday 30th January and is renumbered as route 7. Timetable yet to be confirmed.

First Solent have some timetable changes from Sunday 12th February on routes 20, 21 and 27. The 21 and 27 are reduced to only running off-peak weekday daytimes, with the Saturday service withdrawn. The current last bus on the 20 is cancelled, meaning the last bus will leave Fareham at 1635 weekdays.

Xelabus have announced that their Yellow Coaches subsidiary will withdraw all services in the Bournemouth area, including routes 18, 33 and 36, from Tuesday 14th February, when their temporary contract with BCP Council expires. It is widely expected that More, as the only remaining operator in the area, will pick those routes up, but that is yet to be confirmed.

Xelabus are commemorating First leaving Southampton by running a free vintage bus on some of Citybus's historic routes on First's final day, Saturday 18th February.

First Wessex's seasonal routes in Weymouth start resuming on Wednesday 1st March with Sunseeker 12 to Littlesea. Sunseeker 13 to Waterside starts on Friday 17th March.

Southern Vectis's seasonal Needles Breezer service has been registered to resume on Saturday 4th March.

Sunday 5th March sees changes to First Solent routes 7 and 9/9A. Details to be confirmed.

First Solent will be running the Southsea Coaster 50 tourist service from Sunday 28th May between The Hard and South Parade Pier. Timetable to be confirmed.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Most single fares capped at £2 until end of March

Most single fares are being capped at £2 between 1st January and 31st March 2023, as part of a government-funded scheme. So far in our region, Go South Coast (trading as Bluestar, More, Salisbury Reds, Southern Vectis, Unilink and Unibus) and Stagecoach have confirmed their participation in the scheme. First have now also confirmed their participation. Xelabus are not taking part. There are exceptions, such as school and college routes, but the scheme means that some pretty long journeys can be made for just £2 each way.

Stagecoach has new timetables on routes 21 and 23 in Portsmouth from 3rd January, with earlier buses on weekdays and later buses on Friday and Saturday nights.

Christmas & New Year service levels:

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Bluestar unveil City Red replacement routes

Bluestar have unveiled the six new routes they will be introducing to replace First City Red, which closes down in February. Timetables are not yet available, but they have given an indication of expected service levels on the new routes, which will launch on 19th February 2023:

Unsurprisingly, there is no replacement for City Red 1 or 2. Bluestar 12 already goes to Calmore, Bluestar 17 to Weston and Bluestar 18 to Millbrook, so everyone on those routes is already covered.

City Red 3 is replaced by Bluestar 19, which will run every 20 minutes weekday daytimes, down from every 10 minutes currently on the 3. There is also a slight route change: Warren Avenue is already served by Bluestar 17, so the 19 will go via Maybush Corner:

City Red 6 to Hamble is replaced more or less like for like by Bluestar 15.

City Red 7 to Townhill Park via Portswood is replaced by Bluestar 20 at about the same frequency.

City Red 8 to Hedge End becomes Bluestar 14 and the recent extension to the General Hospital is cut. Passengers for the General will need to change in the city centre to routes 17 or 19.

City Red 9 to Sholing via Peartree becomes Bluestar 10

City Red 13 to Harefield via Merry Oak becomes Bluestar 13 and the weekday daytime frequency will double from once to twice an hour.

In other news...

Christmas & New Year service levels: