Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bluestar changes from 4th November

Bluestar have just announced some big changes to their routes taking effect from 4th November. We'll cover them in more detail nearer the time, but the main points are:

Bluestar 3 rerouted to serve Woolston and Peartree (instead of Northam - head-to head with First 2A) and extended from Botley to Boorley Green.

Bluestar 6 will have its Rushington short journeys cut but will have bigger buses to make up for it.

Bluestar 8 is getting paranoid after the launch of First 11 and suddenly now it's apparently profitable to run every half hour between town and Hythe with an hourly extension to Calshot. An hourly Sunday service will run. There will also be an evening service between town and Marchwood only.

Bluestar 9 will always run to Langley, leaving Fawley and Calshot to the newly extended 8. The Sunday daytime frequency is halved to hourly, but the new Sunday 8 will also be hourly so most of the Waterside will still have 2 buses an hour.

Bluestar 10 and 11 merged into one route (11) between town and West Totton, with three buses an hour Mon-Sat daytimes, all serving Morrisons.

Bluestar 12 up to three buses an hour Mon-Sat daytimes.

Bluestar H1, H2 and H3 are withdrawn as Hampshire County Council have decided to give the subsidy to First. It remains to be seen how these routes will run - Bluestar 8 extending to Calshot on a commercial basis means HCC are unlikely to pay for the H3 to continue.

Bluestar T3 and T4 will be two new routes between Totton and Cadnam, mopping up the abandoned sections of the 10 and 11.

113 comments:

  1. I am not sure who writes this blog, but there seems to be a bias towards First Bus.... To say that Bluestar are getting "paranoid" about the 8 route, without a similar comment about Firsts reaction to the new Bluestar 16, seems to prove this point! To my mind, both operators seem to be engaged in protecting what they see as their own routes. Remember that First seem to have started this "war", by first starting their Totton 10 route, and now the Marchwood 11 service. The only own goal that I can see, is that Bluestar appear to have cut off the residents of Fawley each evening completely...I am certain First will seize on that opportunity very quickly, unless Bluestar slam the door on it, as they seem to have done in every other Firstbus attempt to encroach onto the waterside area. As we have seen many times in the past, these attempts to start bus wars seldom work. If widespread rumours are correct, First are making huge losses in Southampton, and whilst they are a massive operator nationally, they will only be given a limited time to turn performance around.Attacking other operators routes, probably adding to their losses, is unlikely to solve the problem, in my opinion. The alarming recent slide in Firsts share price, following the rail franchise debacle, must make them look very attractive to potential suitors? I cant help wondering whether a few years from now, Arriva will be seen on the South Coast, in a big way? As you can tell, there is no bias in my views!

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  2. No bias in Anon's views above? Who are you kidding? Lots of spurious claims about First that can disproved by downloading the latest set of accounts from Companies House.

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    1. Do they split their accounts into depots? Mmmm, thought not! I was refering to Southampton depot. Nothing spurious about the drop in share price either!

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    2. Hmm, new multi million pound depot, new network, new buses on the way all hardly signs of a business making big losses, suggests First Southampton have a very bright future. Hardly signs of a business about to be sold. As for the share price, well shares go up as well as down, most people understand that, remember when Stagecoach shares bottomed and they bounced back stronger than ever.

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    3. On the contrary, its the new depot costs that seems to be scewing the accounts so badly. The new network seems to be a desperate attempt to try to build revenues, and maybe an admission that things were seriously wrong at First Southampton? Whether new buses are on the way is anybodys guess, but they are years overdue, so a bit of investment would not go amiss! Regarding the share price, obviously they can bounce back, but until they do, the threat of a predatory take over remains, surely?

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    4. I somehow think whatever First do it will be wrong in your book. You appear to be claiming intimate knowledge of First accounts to a level not published at Companies House by claiming a new depot is screwing the accounts. Sadly you couldn't be further from the truth, the new depot made both operational and financial sense else why do it?

      The new network had been widely applauded by industry pundits ad a sensible thing to do, redesigning a network that had become complicated and disjointed over time, delivering more services to more places including improved evenings and Sundays, hardly the actions of a business on its knees.

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    5. Oh and new buses due by Christmas, it's an open secret ask any driver.

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    6. Ask any driver???? The font of all knowledge,eh? Oh dear! I hate to appear disrespectful, but if your information is coming from drivers, its no wonder it lacks any depth of knowledge. The only open secret is that First in Southampton are struggling very badly, according to my senior management sources!

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    7. The order of new buses was confirmed to staff in a meeting last week.

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    8. we need eco buses in southampon

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    9. Bluestar have the grand total of one, and based on that experience, wont order any more!

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    10. new buses or old buses from london

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  3. First have had a presence in Totton for many years so don't believe Bluestar have suddenly taken offence to that. Th diversion to the Bluestar 3 appears to be a least gasp attempt to keep this route going by trying to nab passengers from both First and Velvet?

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    1. I rather think its another swipe at First, for daring to go onto the waterside. It does seem to make sense not tofollow much of their own 18 route though?

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  4. The provocative move was by BlueStar operating to Townhill Park.

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    1. Oh dear, you obviously missed something.... Bluestar responded to news of Firsts 11 service, by announcing their 16 route...Bluestar just got it going quicker than First!

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    2. Dear Anon, you clearly don't understand how bus registrations work, each company is required to give eight weeks notice, the 16 was registered first hence it started first, the 11 was a response so started a week later.

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    3. Registrations are one thing, but the announced intention of 11 came from First before Bluestar dreamt up the 16 route idea. It is certainly First who started this spat.

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    4. Cobblers, show me where First announced route 11 before registering the route, to do so is commercial suicide in a competitive environment.

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    5. I dont think the word "cobblers" is very nice! I am sure there are rules about posting? You wont find it written anywhere, so there may be a mole at First? What I am absolutely certain about, is that Bluestar announced to their staff, that they were starting the 16 as a direct response to Firsts 11. Maybe you are suggesting that they lied to their staff? Surely they would not do that? If they were intent on attacking First, surely they would have said so? It would seem a very strange thing to do, as they are the smaller operator of the two, and have only ever responded to threats from others, and have never been the aggressor previously.

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    6. Think about it, if First were going to run route 11 first then why wouldn't they just get on and register it? They wouldn't sit back and wait for Bluestar to register a competitive service.

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    7. Two words about Bluestar never being the aggressor - Beep Bus! One of the worst cases of aggression seen in the industry in recent years, even got mentioned in parliament by the local MP and was one of the incidents that triggered the Competition Commission investigation. Please research your posts before posting, just about everything you've written so far is so wrong it's laughable.

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  5. It's competition as was envisaged in 1987. Things just go slow in the South!!

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  6. Deregulation commenced in 1986, competition came rather early to Southampton in 1987 with the start of Solent Blue Line, eever since then things have been rather amicable - until now!

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    1. Apart perhaps from the "bus war" with Velvet? Go Ahead seem to take any threat very seriously, and move rapidly to repel all boarders!

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    2. They've done little to stop Xelabus creaming passengers, even sold them a bus from Plymouth Citybus!

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    3. Two possible scenarios to that one.... Its possible that the bus was sold through a dealership, and not direct, but its also possible that they did sell it direct to help out with the college subcontract deal?

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    4. The bus was sold direct on eBay at a time when Xela was poaching customers all over Eastleigh from Bluestar, what deal on colleges are you on about???

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    5. Any evidence of this? A bus being sold on e-bay, by a major operator? Surely not? Any evidence of Xelabus poaching customers from Bluestar in Eastleigh? I thought their routes were targeting Velvet, not Bluestar? Will have to leave you to research who Xela do subcontract work for, I am afraid..... You may be very surprised!

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    6. Yes lots of evidence, google enough and you will find a thread on the dart being sold on eBay by Plymouth Citybus, it was discussed in several places at the time.
      As for Xelabus targeting Bluestar customers well how about their Fair Oak service or the route they registered against Bluestar 1 from Chandlers Ford?
      Xelabus don't tend to subcontract work being a subcontractor themselves to PB Bus Marketing. They nabbed the Totton College contract from Bluestar last time it was retended.

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    7. I bow to your greater knowledge about the dart. Hardly a scarce vehicle, nor one that will set the world alight though. Plenty available, so unsure how Go Ahead shot themselves in the foot by selling it? I had no idea Xelabus ran from Chandlers Ford to Southampton, nor from Fair Oak to Southampton?

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    8. Xelabus had a short lived service Soton to CF one a day each way presumably to run a service on otherwise dead miles in repositioning their buses. This was similar to the velvet service Eastleigh/Southampton via Velmore. In both cases Bluestar responded by adding an extra bus against xelabus and using the Beep service against Velvet
      What is surprising is despite claiming they have no spare capacity to strengthen overcrowded services or to have a relief bus/crew in Soton bluestar can find resources to fight perceived threats (3 buses and drivers for part of the day on the now defunct beep)
      With far less resources SBL (the forerunner of Bluestar) had a spare crew rostered all day
      in soton

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    9. To my knowledge, they still have several spares on the rotas....Trouble is, they keep needing to use them!

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  7. it will all end in tears, and a reduced service for passengers!

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  8. The First network redesign was a last ditch desperate move by First to test a method of saving its nationwide bus business. Southampton is the guinea pig and by all accounts, now it's operational, has not exactly set the world on fire. Just like the Pompey redesign won't. The problem is that First have neglected their passengers for years and that neglect cannot be reversed overnight. They should be commended for trying but its too little and way too late. In the end they will just pull out and leave the travelling public and councils screwed, just like they have in Lothian, Falkirk and North Devon to name a few.
    One correction to an earlier comment is that their share price fall was not bus related it was west coast franchise related. The one related to the buses happened a while back!

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    1. I think it will be a while before this happens, but I am sure you are right. The Southampton depot investment will be given a chance to turn things round, but at the moment it certainly looks doomed.

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  9. I can't see First pulling out of Southampton having built a new depot. Whilst Bluestar looks impressive with it's newer buses and bright livery, it has retreated to the highly profitable routes leaving itself open to 'creaming off' attacks. It is already having to invest heavily in defending Totton and Waterside routes along with the higher frequency on route 18 and some feeble attempts at attacking First. Bluestar could be the one to suffer, especially if Stagecoach come in on the act or if the University come to realise how fast the quality is declining on their Unilink service and pull the contract.

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    1. Bit of a sweeping statement about Unilink? In what way do you think the quality has fallen? You used the word yourself, contract! That inplies at least another few years before it can be challenged, surely?

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    2. The use of those awful PVL's on the Unilink contract has devalued the product in my view, the U1 has become a lottery as to whether you travel on a comfortable and still relatively new Scania or some loud uncomfortable PVL.

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    3. As i have said in a previous posting, Bluestar under Go Ahead's control seem to over a period of time taken their eye off the ball..... Take the Hedge End situation for instance, Solent Blue Line under the John Chadwick/Pete Shelley era had an impressive network of route's serving the area eg:25,26/A,27/A,28/A,29/A.... it used to be a standing joke when i worked for Blue Line that there was a Blueline bus around every corner in Hedge End!!!
      So how have Go Ahead let this situation diminish to such an extent where in my opinion they have handed over the Hedge End area to First and are now having to defend their one remaining route, whereas if they had trusted Blueline's past thinking a bit more, now i know network's have to change and evolve but let's not forget Hedge End is a developing area which Bluestar now do not serve a lot of, it would have never given First the opportunity to encrouch on it's network in the first place....excuse the pun!

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    4. I can see your point, but the problem with Hedge End is that it stopped developing a long time ago, and in common with other areas that Bluestar have neglected, there was simply no profit being made out of it. Maybe they were happy to let it go and let First trundle up and down with near empty buses?

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    5. Sorry, I disagree. Hedge End is still developing. Also, some SBL routes in Hedge End were actually run by Brijan Tours with SBL liveried buses.

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    6. Regarding other operators coming in, has anyone else heard the rumours about Arriva arriving on the South Coast, possibly into Empress Road?! I stress, it is ONLY a rumour, and we all know how often they are wrong!

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    7. I heard a rumour Arriva are buying Xelabus, their buses are green so it must be true!

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  10. bluestar need to go to hamble from town via woolston and weston shone

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    1. Hamble??? Isnt that the place thats miles from anywhere, en route to nowhere, and when you get there, there is nothing there except a few blokes in BMWs who want to put "Le Rice" on the end of the name, to push up their house prices? Very little bus market there, I am afraid!

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    2. SBL used to run to Hamble originally from Millbrook via Ocean Village.
      This was handed over to First along with the Soton/Portsmouth route in return for taking back the 47 to Winchester (now BS1)

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    3. And what an inspired business decision that proved to be...BS1 has to be their most profitable route, bar none.

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    4. Hamble and West End routes swapped with the then Southampton Citybus for Winchester. The MD of Citybus said it was a good deal because they were struggling with timekeeping on the Winchester route (M3 in build). Not very farsighted of him !

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    5. Bluestar still struggle with timekeeping on BS1
      which is hardly surprising seeing that Winchester council are unable to provide a bus route out of Winchester
      It seems passengers are fixated with buses on time rather than being realistic and allowing themselves more time for their journey - perhaps bus operators could follow the railways and increase times to allow for delays (I hope they do not consider this)- do passengers really want to sit on the bus for several minutes at timing points just so the bus can run on time in busy periods

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    6. The Traffic Commissioner expects bus operators to adjust their timings to take account of potential delays, telling Ms Bell the area TC that passengers should allow more time for their journeys would not go down too well!

      It has always struck me BS appear to do their timings in a rocket powered car at 3am to avoid any traffic and not stopping anywhere. You couldn't drive a car to time on some routes and bus drivers are expected to stop to pick people up, etc. No wonder their routes are unreliable.

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    7. I have always found their routes to be very reliable! In fact, some of them are like clockwork... Sadly, like most operators, they struggle with some.... The good thing is that they do leave plenty of time on turnaround, so usually catch up on any lost time, ready for the next trip. The one glaring exception being the 18 of course!

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  11. @anon 1208. Go Ahead have removed the separate supervisors for Unilink so problems get dealt with by Bluestar in Bluestar fashion : vehicle defect - bring it back to Barton Park - loss of service for hour or 2 : breakdown - have to wait til next shift for fitter to come out, no spare driver or bus - more lost mileage : running 30 mins late,4 buses together - nothing we can do about it : single decks on U1 - 3 or 4 out of 13 deckers defective. Lost mileage was unheard of in Accord days - extra buses were hired in and supervisors were watching and waiting to sort problems immediately and on the road themselves frequently. Go Ahead even removed the separate manager for some time until the University realised the man they were liasing with was a manager in name only with no control over the actual operation. Looks like Go Ahead have persuaded the University to change their smart cards for Bluestar Key - that will make it difficult for another operator to get in on the contract.

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  12. I am no expert on Unilink, but I have never witnessed 4 buses together, nor a loss of service for that length of time. They certainly have at least one spare vehicle, liveried in dual purpose colours. You seem to make some very sweeping statements again! Have you a gripe against them? Not sure who Accord are, or perhaps were, but obviously they lost the contract, so were not that good?

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    1. I've witnessed 3 U1's together and waited for over 30 minutes for a U6 recently! The "spare" Unilink bus you are referring to is often seen on other routes so not available to use if required.

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    2. The last few evenings have witnessed up to 5 buses in the short distance between Fords and the Airport and U6 route up to an hour late. Probably be the same today. Yes it's mostly caused by traffic/road works but my point is there is no attempt to allieviate the problem and drivers are not allowed to use their initiative.
      The dual liveried spare bus was the subject of a 'toys out of pram' reaction from a previous Bluestar manager. When the University objected to the Bluestar livery and name on the front, he decreed it would only be used on Bluestar so 1 less spare double deck for Unilink.

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  13. The loss of the contract still annoys everyone connected with the real original uni-link.A score of 93% on the uni's own tendering system was ignored because...?

    The uni are now paying millions per year and they never have clue what is going on...they do not even understand what lost mileage is because BS don't tell them.The real uni-link lost about ten miles a month,by providing a fantasic service.If only the staff buy out had been organised quicker,it would still be making money for the uni,not costing it millions.

    As for the new ticketing,intergrated tickets were the only plus point in the BS bid...and four years on they haven't got it yet.I think BS stands for more than you think !

    Twelve year old deckers on a 'contract' that says no older than five...rest my case.All very sad.

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  14. need the 18 to go to tesco on sunday for the car boot sale

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    1. I think thats a great idea, apart from the congestion problems.

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    2. SBL used to extend the 18 or 19 to the car boot sale on Sundays but gave it up due to lack of demand

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    3. But the strange thing is you see the buses coming down from the Tesco R'bout when drivers change shifts at start/end & sometimes in the middle of the day!! It's totally crazy that there is no bus from Tesco Bursledon (except a Free shoppers bus twice a week) between Tesco Bursledon & Thornhill/Sholing areas. You used to see lots of people struggle up/down the road pushing Tesco trolleys (until the £1 coin deposit came in) & now you see them carrying lots of bags instead. Furthermore, people living EAST of the EASTPOINT centre can't get there as no buses from that direction!!

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  15. bluestar need to run a bus from thornhill to town via sholing and woolston

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    1. Good luck with them doing that, they won't get many passengers on that route as the extremely popular First 3 runs that route. Also Bluestar already has a high frequency service between town and Thornhill

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    2. So the first number 3 should certainly be the next one to attack, surely?

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    3. Not on the East side of Southampton. Bluestar already has 8 buses an hour from Town to Thornhill and Hightown, compared to 6 a hour to Thornhill and 3 an hour to Hightown on First.
      It would not be justifiable to run another service to Thornhill.

      If Bluestar wants to seriously attack First 3, the case would be to run a service from Town to General Hospital and Lordshill.
      Lordshill only has 2 buses an hour on Bluestar compared to 19 buses an hour from First.

      The General Hospital has 0 buses from BlueStar (Not counting Uni-link before anyone butts in!) and First runs 13 buses an hour from the General Hospital to Town. This is where BlueStar needs to attack First!

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    4. And First needs to attack on Bluestar routes also, not the rubbish routes like the 8.

      It's the big three routes that First needs to attack on also.
      The 1 to Winchester, 2 to Eastleigh or the 4 to Romsey.

      I remember years ago (8 years or so) First used to extend their "Old Service 8" to Romsey on Sundays - but Terminated at Lordshill on Monday to Saturday, whatever happened to that Sunday extension?

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    5. Time really flies by ! The First extension to Romsey on a Sunday was route 7 and was in the mid 1990's - the same time that First was providing a bus service for the university.

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    6. The 8 was extended to Romsey on Sundays under tender to Hampshire County Council, at some point BS won the tender and the rest is as they say history.

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  16. first need to run a bus from town to bournemouth

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  17. The old X27/X2 ran for what, 20 years? Then nothing! Still unsure what changed there? Maybe coaches and trains took that market?

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    1. Hants and Dorset started the fast service Soton/Bmouth via cadnam and Ringwood as route 27 in the late 1960's with 2 cream painted rear platform lodekkas, fleet nos 1511 and 1512 (how sad to remember that!). These were very popular and at peak times had duplicates running
      The basic service stayed the same until withdrawal by SBL some 40 years later. Other operators have since tried a similar route but without success as passenger numbers declined

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  18. the old x27 was a good service from southampton to brighton

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  19. the old Solent Blue Line bus routes was the best like the 18 to romsey and the 26 to fareham and the 52 to petersfield

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  20. bluestar v first new buses new bus routes happy days not it will all end in tears no passengers on buses

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    1. That comment has lost me completely! But looking at the loadings on First 11 since it started, cant be filling them with too much optomism for its survival, and Bluestar havnt even started the fightback yet! Even the first drivers look bored silly, driving buses with 4 pensioners aboard... Whilst on the subject of First, why do they allow those silly baseball caps to be worn?

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    2. Not as bored as the 16 drivers look! Might as well be driving a motorcycle with a pillion for the occasional passenger it's proving that popular. Would also help if they bothered to display a destination...

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    3. Just goes to show how stupid this phoney war is then! Having said that, I think the potential for growth is far greater on the 16 route, than it can ever be on Firsts 11. How many people live in Marchwood, compared to Townhill Park, Bitterne Park, Portswood etc, I wonder? It really isnt rocket science to see how badly wrong First are with their decision to fight for a route that was already over served with one bus per hour!

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    4. You must be the very deluded planner who thinks the 16 is a good route !

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    5. Deluded enough to think 20 minute delays are acceptable and pinching passengers from your own route through Portswood and Lodge Road - both of which the 16 is doing.

      First have a significant advantage over BS on the 11, they are significantly cheaper, BS been ripping off their passengers on the Waterside for years.

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    6. Now that is funny! Just how much can anyone charge a pensioner with a free pass? Good luck with the cheap fares. I dont think anyone will ever make a profit on that route, no matter how much or how little they charge. Remember though, it is all about the service, the buses, the drivers, and the frequency.... I genuinely hope that First wont continue with this futile challenge, as it will just increase their losses, and sadly, everyone elses! It was an ill conceived idea, which will end in tears, as someone else said. Before anyone else says it, I actually think the 16 is a mistake too!

      Delays can and will occur anywhere, no matter who runs the service. Are you suggesting that Bluestar build a new road for their buses? I think you will find that First run over their own routes in one or two places too? It really would be appreciated if we could keep this civil, please? I dont like First. I dont like their standards of service, nor their buses (which really are their biggest let down), nor most of their driving standards. BUT, I respect their right to try whatever they see fit, in an effort to keep going, even if they will undoubtedly fail with the 11. I am sure they will come up with another bright scheme somewhere, someday!

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    7. "I dont think anyone will ever make a profit on that route" that'll be why Bluestar are doubling the service on the 8 to run three minutes in front of First and running a commercial Sunday service too despite telling everyone for years it wasn't commercially viable, must be money somewhere along the orute otherwise why invest all that extra resource to see off a bit of competition.

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    8. Lets be very clear about this.... Bluestar simply will not allow First onto the waterside. Totton and the waterside are the life blood of one of their two depots in the Southampton area (But absolutely not the 8 route!). Why else do you think they will throw the kitchen sink in, if necessary, to defend it? They have very cleverly waited for First to declare their hand, and then responded to completely kill off any chance to intrusion by First, by not only over compensating on the 8, but ruining Firsts H3 route by running to Fawley and Calshot with the 8, and also pre-empted Firsts next possible idea, by incresing frequency on the 12 and the new routed 11, to tie up Totton completely with a 10 minute frequency from town. They simply will not allow First to encroach, but will happily watch First running old and empty buses to Millbrook on the X2 route, as it poses no threat.

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    9. Totton to town has had a supposed 10 minute frequency for years from BS, thats if they bother to turn up on time (see others comments about timing routes at 3am in a rocket). It looks like by putting all this extra commercial resource into the 8 BS admit they have been ripping off the council for years, to the tune of £1500 a week of OUR money. As a council tax payer I am furious and they deserve to fail, last laugh could be on First if they pull the 11 off then switch buses to a a route that would really hurt BS - try withdrawing Marchwood its Sunday service then BS!!!

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    10. Regarding the Totton service, you are to some extent correct. They have had two number 6s, one number 8, one number 10 or 11, and two number 12s, making six buses per hour to Totton in peak times. What they havnt done for years is advertise a dedicated service of just two routes serving Totton every 10 minutes (11 and 12), and then augmented this with an additional two number 8s and a number 6, making 9 buses per hour! The timings look pretty reasonable on all routes, but as with any service along a major road, it will never always go to plan.

      I really dont get where you think they have been "ripping the councils off"? They were the only operator willing to provide the service at the time, and it was entirely the councils decision whether to subsidise the route or not. As soon as First pull back from Marchwood, I have absolutely no doubt that Marchwood will be left high and dry on a Sunday yet again. The point that several seem to have already made is exactly what you are saying-why on earth did First attack a route with so little potential, instead of focusing on one where they may have done some damage? It does ask a serious question of who is in charge at First Southampton, and how long they will keep their job, bearing in mind this ridiculous choice of route, dont you think? As pointed out elsewhere on this thread, Bluestar are just making certain that First fail, and have taken pre-emptive action on other routes, to make sure First cant redeploy resources to any great effect, when the Marchwood experiment ceases.

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    11. I think maybe First were just expanding where it was already their territory or Bluestar had little interest - Millbrook, Hedge End and Marchwood. Now that Bluestar have launched the 16 in direct attack, First may well really go on the attack in the Waterside or a direct Hedge End would make sense linked to 8/8A. Of course Bluestar make massive profit from the Unilink contract so they wont be short of cash. Interesting times !

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    12. Anon@0055: where have you been for the past few years? BS have marketed town to Totton as every 10 minutes for the past few years. BS have been ripping the council off to the tune of £1500 a week for running service 8 under tender, it's a route many of us has suspected to be commercial judging by the loadings often arriving in Southampton full. On retendering First decide to run the route commercially, suddenly BS decide it doesn't need the £1500 a week and can even increase frequencies - clearly there must be something worth having for First if BS are intent on defending the area so rigorously. Meanwhile the 16 remains busily running round mostly empty and usually at least 10 minutes late, who will blink first?

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    13. Anon@0732...You appear to be repeating yourself. Again, let us be clear...The 16 and the 11 are both running around nearly empty, and are both awful ideas from their respective operators. No arguements there. Its a phoney war, and it really doesnt matter who blinks first, as they will both be re jigged or disappear without trace before too long, as they are both unsustainable long term. Councils are not stupid....They do surveys to ascertain passenger numbers, and the subsidy has to be justified. No-one can rip them off. Any observations of loadings that you may have made in Southampton, certainly dont come from Marchwood, and I suspect you are looking at peak time arrivals, which have picked up passengers from Totton onwards. First will probably already have spotted this? But you are absolutely right about one thing...Bluestar do want to protect their waterside and Totton markets, as they are worth having, but its not the 8 that has the profit, with or without the subsidy. Also, if you can provide any evidence of your claims that Bluestar have actively marketed a 10 minute service to Totton in recent years, I would love to see it. There is nothing marketing it on their website, and nothing anywhere on their buses!

      I have no idea what the cost of running a bus for a day is? I could only hazard a guess at say £1000 per day? Operators need to take a closer look at where their competition is weak, and understand that we now live in a 7 day per week, 24 hours per day society, and make better use of their vehicles at off peak times, not try to expand at peak times which requires additional vehicles, additional insurance, and additional staffing. Utilization will become key. There are massive opportunities for operators to attack each other at off peak times and days, and to create new markets. These experiments would only have moderate costs attached, as the vehicles are sitting idle, the insurance paid for etc. So the only addtional costs would be staffing, fuel, and nominal additional maintenance. I wonder who will spot this first, and find the real weakness in each others operations?

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    14. "Also, if you can provide any evidence of your claims that Bluestar have actively marketed a 10 minute service to Totton in recent years, I would love to see it."

      Check out the bus stops along Millbrook Road there are, or were, advertising the 'every 10 minutes' claim. It was also in a previous version of their timtable booklet.

      "Utilization will become key. There are massive opportunities for operators to attack each other at off peak times and days, and to create new markets."

      Where do you see these opportunities? Lets look at the challenges of running buses off-peak, over 60% of total bus costs relate to either time or miles run more time or miles significantly increase costs, hardly minimal costs.

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    15. Well, I checked them out as asked, and there is nothing advertising a 10 minute service. The current (soon to be previous) timetable book also has nothing to that effect. So your info would appear to be rather out of date, backing my claim that they havnt claimed a ten minute frequency for quite a while now.

      No idea where you get your figures for running costs, interesting as they are? Having said that, if someone offered me something at 40 per cent off, it would often be quite appealing I think! The opportunities to challenge existing operators exist mainly on Sundays and early evenings, when demand on some routes is still very strong, but operators, for whatever reason, choose to run down their services. Maybe its a throwback to when nothing was open after 6pm on weekdays, and nothing at all open on Sundays? The world has changed, but bus operators still work as if it hasnt! I would hazard a guess that most operators have close to 50 per cent of their fleets idle on a Sunday, yet its an ordinary trading day. During the summer, I wonder how many people would fancy a trip to Bournemouth/Poole, if that service existed, for example?

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    16. They did advertise every 10 minutes when 56 became Bluestar 6.
      The contraction of service to 8am to 6pm on weekdays gives problems now that councils have no money to pay for evening and Sunday. First seemed to make a reasonable move to register the Marchwood service as commercial with a Sunday service. I certainly think some operators are a bit greedy on tenders.

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    17. 60% of a bus operating cost is variable based on the time and miles its operating, that's not to say you get a 40% discount for running buses in the off-peak!

      Both city operators have increased Sunday services in recent years so therefore responding to demand? Whilst a service to Bournemouth would be great the current concessionaire scheme would probably make it unviable, you could probably fill a bus but when most are travelling on free passes I doubt it would earn more than £50 for a return trip costing a minimum of £200 to operate.

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  21. bluestar and first look at lothian buses in edinburgh how to run bus service new buses good
    bus fare clean buses

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  22. bluestar need new buses not old buses from wilts and dorset

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    1. Why do Bluestar need new buses? They have a quality fleet of Mercedes Benz, still not even close to half way through their design life! Wilts and Dorset, or More, as they are now called, are in their group, so why not standardise on the merc fleet, making it cheaper to maintain? The customers absolutely love them too. Why change a winning formula?

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  23. bluestar 18 we run to town via kingway and not run via new road and west quay

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  24. I think that as soon as the new Morrisons at East St is built, they will be very likely to resume service via Kingsway.

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  25. Anon 02:37 12/10/12 They have a quality fleet of Mercedes Benz, still not even close to half way through their design life! Wilts and Dorset, or More, as they are now called, are in their group, so why not standardise on the merc fleet, making it cheaper to maintain?

    If proof were needed that you are talking rubbish, this is it. Citaros cheap to maintain? Ha Ha Ha; you are having a laugh. Nice buses they may be but they certainly ain't cheap to keep on the road. Why do you think Wilts and Dorset (or more or whatever they are calling themselves this week) got rid of them, even though they are newer than the Volvos and Excels they decided to keep???

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    1. More didnt get a choice in the matter! The vehicles in question (Citaros), have been transferred primarily because of their better suitability to the routes in the bluestar area, and because they help standardize a fleet in Southampton. By doing so, it is obviously cheaper to maintain, by being able to keep spares in one location, and by the fitters having greater expertise on a particular vehicle. No-one ever said that they were cheap to maintain! I really wish that you would read the posts, before dismissing them as rubbish. It does tend to make you the one with egg on his face....

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    2. 91 posts, mostly anonymous. How about using some usernames so we can have a conversation of a kind !

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    3. I would take a guess that some of us are employees, either drivers or managers, of some of the companies? As such, we are restricted in the use of social media sites, by our contracts of employment. Any username could start to identify us, so we keep to anon, to alleviate some risk?

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  26. Replies
    1. Now that would be a good name!

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  27. "Anon: More didnt get a choice in the matter! The vehicles in question (Citaros), have been transferred primarily because of their better suitability to the routes in the bluestar area, and because they help standardize a fleet in Southampton."

    That is not my understanding; Bluestar wanted large single deckers and got what they were given. If your understanding is the case, why have Bluestar subsequently started route 16 with ex More Volvos (which ARE very nice buses, BTW). Though so far I've not seen a 16 with more than 3 people on it (including the driver)!!


    And from your previous post (I quote) "so why not standardise on the merc fleet, making it cheaper to maintain?". You claimed standardising on Citaros would make the fleet cheaper to maintain; I was merely disagreeing with that statement.

    But then Bluestar will need to actually allocate the buses to the correct routes which seems totally beyond them these days; there were at least two Solos on the 18 one day last week; totally unsuitable for that route, yet the Es were being run with Cadets. They would surely be much better the other way round.


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    1. Sadly Anon, your understanding is incorrect! To answer your question about the ex More Volvos, Bluestar wanted a different (distinctive) vehicle, in a hurry, to start the 16 service. The Volvos fitted the bill and were available. You are right, of course, about Bluestar not having a choice in the matter, any more than More had a choice to lose the Citaros. They both do what they are told by Go-Ahead group management. Not sure why you are still banging on about the lack of passengers on 16 route? I think we both agreed, way back, that First has got the 11 horribly wrong (with a corresponding lack of passengers), just as Bluestar have the 16 horribly wrong? Both ventures are likely to be a short lived spat, and normality will resume as soon as both operators get back to their traditional strongholds, instead of having this tit for tat war, which no-one can win.

      I cant understand why you would even contemplate making a disagreement about my statement that a larger fleet of Citaros would be cheaper to maintain? It must surely follow that if you concentrate any type of vehicle in one location, the cost of maintaining them will fall, by reason of spares being kept in one location, and expertise being greater with less types of vehicle to work on?

      I think we all found it a bit odd to see solos running the 18 route at rush hour recently. I am told that it was because of an unusual set of circumstances, which just left the wrong vehicles in the wrong places on a couple of days. Rather than cutting mileage to swop things over, it was decided to run the services, even though it was at completely the wrong capacity. Better than no service at all, I think. Once the refurbishment and re classification of some citaros is complete, I know capacity will be greatly increased.

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  28. Just thought I'd weigh in a bit with what little I know.
    It is interesting to hear from Tired Old Git, whom I presume is a driver (?) in the Uni-Link fleet. I was not aware of the goings on behind the scenes causing trouble. Having been a student at Southampton since 2007, I can say that as a bus user (the person who matters!) things have massively improved since Minerva Accord ran the service. Frequencies have about doubled, and the new buses are also good (albeit Scania single-deckers seem to have quality issues; I'd also be interested to know what "defects" the double-deckers have).
    I have been told both by a driver and by a more senior person at the University that Uni-Link will definitely be getting new Volvos next year, though I have not yet come by the specific details.

    Gotta say though, when it comes to a nice ride and power, the Citaros still take the cake. Will be interested to see how the new Volvos will compare...

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    1. Hi David, the improvements in frequencies and new vehicles are university controlled and would have happened whoever ran the contract. I suspect that Minerva Accord would have gone for better vehicles than the 10 year old refurbished ex-London volvos for the increase frequency! New vehicles next year are a condition of the contract.

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    2. Yes, I do agree that the frequency is for the most part university controlled, although it is my understanding that since the new contract, Bluestar agreed, in cooperation with the university, to increase the U6 frequencies.
      Nevertheless, in my experience, the punctuality was also terrible under Minerva Accord, likely in part due to overcrowding, although this can only be part of the reason. I remember having to wait 40+ minutes for a U1 sometimes before two showed up at once (if I was lucky!). Often U1 buses were also so full you'd have to wait for another, again, not good when the frequency was as it was. Presumably it would have been within Minerva Accord's power to offer more services if they felt them necessary?

      Regarding the "new" Volvo buses next year, I got the impression that they would actually be new, not refurbished, although clearly I could be mistaken...

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    3. U1 was increased from 15min to 10min in Sept 2010 and U6 increased in Sept 2011. 4 reburbished 10 year old ex-London volvos were brought in for the U1 increase and 2 new single deck scanias brought in for the U6 increase.
      Accord hired in extra vehicles and ran extra services when there was a need, Bluestar will only run extra buses if the university pay for them.
      Most of the fleet will need to be replaced next year as a condition of the contract.
      I believe the majority of the revenue for the services is paid directly to the university by first year students (compulsorily I think).

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  29. As an addition to my last post, I will say however that I perceive the Uni-Link service this academic year to not be as good as last year in terms of punctuality/reliability. It could be my imagination though...

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  30. My apologies, it was 4x hourly on the U1, although 3x hourly on the weekend. Either way, I didn't ever see these "extra services" MA added, except for the occasional 5th hourly bus in the peak morning/evening hour sometimes; either way, it was still insufficient. Nevertheless, with the uni continuing to expand, the 6x hourly even is seeing some buses at capacity full at peak times... clearly even more/bigger buses may be needed.
    I see what you meant about the extra Volvos now; I didn't know they were Volvos, and they seem older than 10 years, they have a crappy interior and are super-slow.
    Regarding revenue, I'd be interested to see just how the whole system works. Indeed, people in halls get a bus pass included; it would be interesting to know how much the uni pays for each of these yearly passes..

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  31. The uni doesnt pay for the passes, freshers have the cost addded to the halls fee.

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    1. Well, that's obvious, the customer (almost) always pays. What I mean to say is, the University clearly has some control over how much the pass is costing students, for better or worse. I'm wondering how much this cost is...

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  32. No number 8 bus running through Marchwood today. This is the only bus we have here & we rely on it, even if it`s using Sunday times. It was important to use the bus today & with it not running,it`s messed up our plans. Not good enough. Oh, Happy New Year though!!!

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