Thursday, 6 June 2013

First changes: Focus on Millbrook / Night bus changes tomorrow

Bluestar's night buses have new timetables from tomorrow night and a new route through the City Centre.

Back to our series on First's changes starting 30th June. Today, Millbrook.

Here, First have been competing against Bluestar 18 for several years using a variety of strategies. The latest, since April 2012, has been the X2 providing a direct link to the City Centre, by-passing Shirley. That is now being withdrawn.

First's traditional route through the area is currently the 2/2A, which runs to town via Shirley and continues beyond Millbrook to Lordshill. The 2A will continue, renumbered as the 12:

The 2 however is getting an entirely new route. That of Bluestar 18, on this side of the city at least:

Bluestar 18 currently runs every 7/8 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes and continues beyond town to Bitterne and Thornhill. First 2 on exactly the same route between Millbrook and town, will run every 6 minutes.

Here the summary of how First's service levels between town and Millbrook are changing:

Millbrook is also served by First 10 on its section between Totton and the General Hospital. It's being cut on Saturdays. The 12 will provide an alternative to the General. Passengers wanting to get to Totton on Saturdays will have to use Bluestar and change at Central Station.

One way people in Millbrook will decide between the two companies is on fares. Here is Bluestar's offering for the Southampton City zone:

The second and third lines show the discounts if you use The Key smartcard or buy using Bluestar's mobile app.

First's comparable tickets for their Southampton zone are £17 a week, £56 a month, £140 for 3 months and £430 for a year. But they also offer a FirstWeek Millbrook ticket at £8.50, valid on routes between the city centre and Shirley and/or Millbrook only. (Part of their website advertises this ticket as being just £8 - click on "Tickets" and then "Millbrook" on the left - First really need to maintain their website better). If you're after a ticket valid for more than 3 months or want to travel to other parts of the city too, then Bluestar have the edge on value.

But where First could potentially win in Millbrook is on reliability. Bluestar 18 is often affected by heavy traffic on the other side of the city, but First 2 will only run between town and Millbrook meaning that, in theory at least, it should be less prone to traffic delays.

Here are your links for the new First timetables from 30th June: 2, 10, 12.

Next up: Townhill Park and Merry Oak

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