Thursday, 29 March 2012

New First network: route 5 analysed

STOP PRESS: The new First network map, effective 29th April, has been released. See it here.

New 5 will run from Bassett Green, replacing old 7, through town and then on to Sholing as per old 12 via a forgotten bit of old 8A.

There are a couple of key route changes though. To save time, the terminus loop at Burgess Road expands, so that new 5 will run in a one-way circle from Swaythling McDonalds via Burgess Road, Violet Road, Honeysuckle Road, Daisy Road, Lobelia Road, Bassett Green Road, Stoneham Lane and High Road back to McDonalds and on into town via the old 7 route. Until, that is, it gets to Stag Gates. Where old 7 runs via The Avenue and London Road, new 5 will get to the Cenotaph via Banister Road, Carlton Road and Bedford Place, replacing old 5. First's publicity portrays new 5 as the first bus service to serve Banister Road, but they were beaten to it by Xelabus X13, which launched on 14th March.

So let's first compare new 5 and old 7 between Bassett Green and town:
There's a lot of red here. The only good thing for people on this route is an earlier first bus on Saturdays. The evening service is cut completely, after Sunday evenings were cut last year. The weekday daytime frequency is cut from 3 to 2 buses an hour. And the first bus of the day is later Sun-Fri. This route has become First's last stand in Unilink territory in the last few years, but the cutting of evening services will make First less attractive to regular travellers in Swaythling and Bassett Green. I think we could see First retreat from this route completely before too long. The section through Portswood and Swaythling has direct competition from Bluestar 2 and Unilink U6 and Bassett Green is also served by Unilink U2, all of which have evening services, even on Sundays. I think those buses will be getting gradually busier.

Too depressing. Let's cheers ourselves up by seeing how new 5 and old 5 compare down Bedford Place (which is also partially served by Velvet S2):
A big improvement for Bedford Place. The Mon-Sat daytime frequency is doubled and Sunday buses are introduced. Earlier first and later last buses are the icing on the cake, although there are still no evening buses, but Bedford Place isn't exactly miles from town or alternative routes.

Beyond town, new 5 proceeds via Chapel Road and Albert Road North to Itchen Bridge. This bit replaces old 8A and represents a cut in service, but it's only City College and a few businesses on that part of the route and town is easily walkable.

Over the bridge, new 5 follows the old 12 route to Sholing, using the same terminus loop in the same direction. Here's how the two timetables measure up:

The Mon-Sat daytime frequency is down from 3 to 2 buses an hour, but the last bus runs later. Still no Sunday buses, but old 11/new 9 which runs the other way around the Sholing loop does offer an evening/Sunday service via Bitterne. New 1, 2, 2A, 3 and 6 will serve Woolston in the evenings and on Sundays.

These changes take place on Sunday 29th April. Full timetables here.

Next: A closer look at new 6...


  1. Basset Green is well served by Unilink which is good news for bus users.

    Now if you live in Weston and work in Basset Green you will have to buy a £27 solent card as nor the £16 firtbus ticket nor the £12 bluestar ticket are of no use for you.

    That is Maggie's bus deregulation at its best making bus services more efficient and more affordable.

    1. Why not catch the 1 to Woolston then 5 to Bassett Green, can travel all the way for £16on First then?

    2. I meant to say if the person needs a bus from Basset in the evening say a care worker that finishes his/her shift at 8pm.

  2. First haven't completely axed Bassett Green yet, just the evening services. Of course, if it does eventually happen, then yes, the Solent Travelcard would become the cheapest daily/weekly ticket for such a journey. If however you bought monthly tickets, one for First Southampton at £54 and one for Unilink at £35, that would make £89, which while hefty, is cheaper than four weekly Solent Travelcards which add up to £108.

    Countries that are more civilised than us just have a flat fare to use all buses and trains within a set area, so you don't need to worry about who runs each route. We could have that in the UK if people didn't keep voting for the status quo.

  3. Doesn't a similar multi-operator flat fare rover type ticket exist in Bournemouth town with Yellow buses & W&D combining?

    1. Don't think so but it does in Oxford where day tickets and returns are valid on Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach and Thames Travel. It needed the local authority to broker that deal as it's effectively illegal for operators to agree that between themselves thanks to the paranoia of the Competition Commission.

  4. Bournemouth & Poole's equivalent of the Solent Travelcard is the Getting About card: but visitors from outside arriving by train would be better off with a Bournemouth Plusbus ticket: