A bus war is brewing in Ringwood of all places. It's all about the local town routes, the incumbent versions of which are More's Ringo 1 and 2:
As you can see, they are a part-time between-the-peaks service running roughly between 0900 and 1530 Mon-Sats. For most of their operating hours, buses leave Meeting House Lane (Ringwood's interchange) at 25 and 55 minutes past each hour, with one journey each hour on each of these two clockwise circular routes:
Ringo 2 until 27th May
As they are operated by More, daily and season tickets can also be used to connect at Meeting House Lane to and from More's other services in the town, the X3 to Salisbury or Bournemouth, the X6 to Poole or Bournemouth and the 38 to Ferndown as well as the three-days-a-week 125 to Christchurch.
So far so good. Enter Southbourne Buses from 24th April, with their S1 and S2 routes, looking remarkably similar to Ringo:
Some very minor differences, mainly that Lidl is served. How about the timetable?:
until 4th June
Slightly longer operating times, with buses on the road between 0820 and 1732, but look at the departure times from Meeting House Lane during the day - 20 and 50 past the hour, a strategic 5 minutes in front of More's Ringo. One guesses that most of this route's passengers will have pensioners' freebee passes and therefore no loyalty to either company, so they will simply get on whichever bus arrives first.
More aren't taking this lying down, with a new timetable from 28th May,
Ringo 2 will now also serve Lidl, but more important are the departure times from Meeting House Lane: 15 and 45 past each hour during the day, now 5 minutes in front of Southbourne Buses.
Cue a new timetable from Southbourne, due to start on 5th June:
... now to depart at 12 and 42 past each hour, 3 minutes in front of Ringo.
How long are both parties going to keep this game of leapfrog up? Will the passengers get fed up of constant arbitrary timetable changes? Will anyone ever see fit to provide a bus after 1715 on this route?
While Southbourne are to be commended for extending the operating hours on weekdays, they don't provide a Saturday service, while More do. Farepaying passengers will tend to prefer More because of the connections that can be made with integrated ticketing to other More routes. Southbourne is therefore reliant on pensioners and the ever-dwindling amounts that councils will pay bus operators for carrying them. I'll be very surprised if the S1/S2 are still going at Christmas.