Sunday, 14 January 2018

January Round Up

First have released their new timetable booklet for Southampton, which takes effect from next Sunday 21st January. See it here. With the withdrawal of route 12, their network map now looks like this:

Compare it with September 2009 to get an idea of just how far First have run down their services in our city:

Passengers who rely on First 12 can switch to Bluestar 7 from 21st Jan, which is being extended to Lordshill via the 12's route. See the new 7 timetable here.

Much of the reason for First's long term local decline has been the intervention of the University of Southampton in the local bus market. They were unhappy with how First were serving their staff and students, so worked to bring about an alternative: Unilink. For several years, the Unilink routes have been operated by Bluestar and therefore integrated into the wider Bluestar network. The University are clearly happy with the job Bluestar are doing, as they've just renewed their Unilink contract for another 10 years. This makes any return of First to Swaythling and Bassett highly unlikely.

In other news, Stagecoach 66 has a new timetable since 8th Jan due to roadworks in Romsey.

Stagecoach 39 in Havant gets a new timetable from 28th Jan with only minor changes.

From the same date, some fares and ticket prices are going up on Stagecoach. Don't forget you can pay less by switching from paper tickets to their Smart card or mobile app.

Yellow Buses have revised times on their Uniline U6, U9 and U10 routes from Sunday 21st January. Details here.


134 comments:

  1. That`s First transforming travel then.

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  2. I have to say that the university has made an impact on routes to Bassett, but not in any other area of Southampton. Most of the decline appears due to complete mismanagement at First, and constantly being out thought by Bluestar.
    Just about every move they have made has turned into an own goal. The disastrous move into their multi million new depot being their biggest mistake, but also their incursion onto the Waterside, with huge losses and withdrawal including the Hythe local service, their inspired branding of the 3, only to wreck it by painting nearly every other route the same colour, their attempt to copy the 18, and completely over schedule it making it barely profitable, and the short lived extension to Thornhill etc etc.
    Every time they make a decision, they leave a door open for Bluestar to attack them a bit more.
    On another thread, I asked the question whether anyone could see First getting to next Christmas? They seem to be so far down the road to total withdrawal, that I think it is very unlikely....

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    1. Bluestar need to get to Weston,then it would probably be the last nail in First`s coffin.

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    2. Yes it would be good to see an attack on the eastern flank, and I am sure that would be enough to finally push them over the edge. But it seems that a long and painful death is desirable as things stand, so that there is competition arguement! I still can't believe how many First drivers are still in denial, over what now seems the inevitable collapse. I heard that Bluestar staff are thinking of running a sweep stake on the date of Firsts last operation in Southampton, but not sure how serious that idea is?

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  3. And Weymouth area services

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  4. Is there A citybus network Map I can view from when First took over in Southampton

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    1. http://www.bob-mockford.co.uk/museum/southampton/
      I don't think this page includes old maps but it does have a route list from 1988.

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  5. Purely as a matter of interest - for purposes of comparison with what's going on in Southampton - how are the Gosport/Fareham and Portsmouth operations? About the same, better, even worse?????

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    1. Be intresting to see as i think the last 3 b7rle on eclipse due for replacement in the next 15 months as the contract is for new buses every 4-5 years. also the 7/8 should get new stock as they tend to replace them every 4-6 years as in last 20 years they have gone from b10ble(w)-omni(54)-b7rle(09)-streelite max(63) i would hedge my bets on if any new moters materialise in either the next 2 orders the solent area future under first may be revealed

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  6. I'm not sure but there is some probably buried on the internet. I can roughly remember the network in about 2001/2002.

    3: City Centre - London Road - Lodge Road - Portswood - Bitterne Triangle - Townhill Park - Midanbury (Every 20 minutes)

    3A: Current 7 route (Every 20 minutes)

    4: City Centre - Northam - Chessel Avenue - Bitterne - Bitterne Road East - Harefield (Every 15 minutes)

    5: Lordshill - Lordshill Way - General Hospital - St James Road - Archers Road - London Road - City Centre - Northam - Bitterne - Bursledon Road - Sholing Butts Road (Every 20 minutes, changes to 11 at Sholing)

    5A: Lordshill - Lordshill Way - Hill Lane - Central Station - City Centre - Northam - Bitterne - Bursledon Road - Sholing Montague Avenue (Every 20 minutes, changes to 11A at Sholing)

    6: Netley/Ingleside - Woolston Road - Tickleford Drive - Weston - Upper Weston Lane - Sholing (Butts Road I believe) - Bursledon Road - Bitterne - Midanbury - Bitterne Triangle - Portswood - Swaythling - University - Bassett Avenue - Winchester Road - General Hospital - Tremona Road - Shirley - Oakley Road - Cumbrian Way - Millbrook Roundabout - Redbridge Road - Totton Asda (Every 30 minutes)

    8: Lordshill - Coxford - Maybush Corner - Shirley - Central Station - City Centre - Ocean Village - Woolston - Bishops Road - MerryOak Spring Road - Bitterne - Midanbury - Townhill Park (Every 20 minutes) On Sundays the route would extend to Romsey

    8A: As 8 from Lordshill to Woolston - Peartree Avenue - Bitterne - Chartwell Green - West End - Ageas Bowl/Rose Bowl/Moorgreen Hospital (Every 20 minutes)

    10: Buchannan Road - Lordshill - Aldermoor Road - General Hospital - Warren Avenue - Shirley - Central Station - City Centre - Ocean Village - Woolston - Sholing Station - Kathleen Road - Thornhill Fairfax Court (Every 20 minutes, on Sundays the route extended to Harefield)

    10A: Bakers Drove - Lordshill - Lordshill Way then as 10 to Sholing Station - North East Road - Thornhill Fairfax Court (Every 20 minutes)

    11: Sholing Butts Road - Upper Weston Lane - Wrights Hill - Woolston - Ocean Village - City Centre - London Road - Lodge Road - Portswood - Swaythling - University - Glen Eyre (Every 20 minutes and on reverse changes to 5 at Sholing)

    11A: Sholing Montague Avenue - Botley Road then as 11 to City Centre - RSH Hospital - Bevois Valley then as 11 to Glen Eyre (Every 20 minutes and on reverse changes to 5A at Sholing)

    16: City Centre - Ocean Village- Woolston - Obelisk Road - St Anne's Road - Wright's Hill then as the current 6 to Hamble (Every 20 minutes)

    17: As the current service 11 from Weston to Woolston then Ocean Village - City Centre - Central Station - Shirley - Oakley Road - Cumbrian Way - Millbrook - Lower Brownhill - Lordshill (Every 15 minutes and you could stay on to the Hospital as it changed to a 17A at Lordshill)

    17A: Weston - Redrow Estate - Jurds Lake Way - Victoria Road - Woolston then as 17 to Millbrook - Maybush Corner - General Hospital - Lordshill Way - Lordshill (Every 15 minutes and you could stay on to Lower Brownhill as it changed to a 17 at Lordshill)

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  7. 20: City Centre - London Road - Lodge Road? (might have been Winn/Westwood Road, can't fully remember) - Portswood - Highfield Lane - Burgess Road - Winchester Road- Shirley (Every 60 minutes)

    21: RSH Hospital - Kingsway - City Centre - Central Station - Waterloo Road - Regents Park - Shirley - Upper Shirley - Dale Valley Road - General Hospital - Lordswood - Lordshill - Hillyfields - Nursling Industrial Estate (Every 60 minutes)

    24: City Centre - London Road - The Avenue - Bassett Avenue - Chilworth Roundabout - Chandlers Ford - IBM Hursley (Only one each way per weekday)

    72 (run by First Solent): Current X5 route (Every 60 minutes)

    78 (run by First Solent): City Centre - Northam - Bitterne - Bursledon Road - Tesco Bursledon - Lowford - Sarisbury Green - Warsash - Locks Heath - Titchfield - Fareham (Every 60 minutes)

    80 (run by First Solent): Current X4 route but only ran City Centre to Fareham (Every 30 minutes)

    101: City Centre - Kingsway - RSH Hospital - Portswood - Highfield- Uinversity - Swaythling - Wessex Lane - Wide Lane - Parkway Station - Airport (Every 30 minutes)

    X27/727 (not sure if ran by Southampton or Solent, and can't remember which number First and Bluestar used): City Centre - Northam - Bitterne - Bitterne Road East - Kanes Hill Roundabout - M27 fast to Portsmouth (Every 60 minutes)

    QuayConnnect was ran by First back then on the same route (Every 10 minutes)

    There was about 6 school routed back then with service numbers in the 150s/160s or thereabouts.

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    1. Wasent there a city loop with the orange dart at some point started same time as x731-3fpo were on the citylink/quay connect? And also the bitterne hopper routes

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    2. I remember as i was working for tesco the 22 was a2b using them metroriders but was it under partnership to first like when they had the 2 mercs painted in barbie or were a2b running it themselves?

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    3. The City Loop was operated commercially by Princess Coaches, a nice idea but it didn't get of the ground

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    4. Remember the plaxton primo on it at some point beleve 1 is on the giants causeway with ulsterbus

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  8. Just an observation ref the comment about First and the Waterside, I think the poster has missed a salient point, I am no promoter of First but BS gave notice to withdraw the then hourly 8 when the subsidy was withdrawn. First stepped in with an hourly commercial service. Suddenly BS found 2 buses an hour commercially and still continue to operate it hourly as a commercial service, No subsidy needed I leave you all to draw the conclusion regarding the subsidy in the first place?

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    1. Totally agree that Bluestar defended their patch when attacked, after a political decision over the subsidy. However it is interesting to note that the service has now been cut back again, and if there were no possible competitors, I doubt that it would run more than a skeleton service, so poor is the patronage.

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    2. Lets put some facts into this debate shall we. Bluestar/GSC had been running the 8 hourly with a large subsidy from HCC for some years. When the contract was up for re-tendering, First submitted a nil bid, and were duly awarded the contract. It was not a political decision; it was route tendering in action!

      B*/GSC/SBL (whatever they were calling themselves at the time) then decided all of a sudden they could not only run the 8 without subsidy but also doubled the frequency. The only decision was GSC's when they lost the contract; their bully boy approach to competitors had been seen previously with the notorious Beep Bus episode in Eastleigh. I dread to think how much money GSC has lost on the 8 since; probably much less than the losses on the 16 though.......

      As for First, they don't get everything right, far from it, but their timetable book is consistently excellent, unlike Bluestar's tatty little leaflets that don't have proper maps inside.

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    3. Oh well, let's not get too worked up about this little bit of history. It is obvious that Bluestar are thriving and First look certain to be gone before year end, no matter how pretty their timetable book!

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    4. I`ve got the timetable leaflet for BS 11/12 and the maps are very good!Some people aren`t happy unless they are constantly whinging.

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    5. Why do to the trouble of printing a timetable book,when five minutes later you announce more routes are being axed?Just providing a timetable leaflet for the route you`re likely to use is better than a whole book,try thinking about the environment and stop wasting paper!

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    6. First only provide timetable leaflets in Bath!

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    7. Anon 16th Jan 18:00
      I don't believe it to be as obvious as Bluestar are doing amazingly, First are doing badly but I do agree that they probably don't have long left before they are sold, most likely to Stagecoach or Arriva. And before anyone says what about GSC no. That wouldn't happen - the competition council or whatever they are called wouldn't allow it. I am no means a supporter of First, but neither am I a supporter of Go-Ahead, having had bad experiences with them in London and Oxfordshire. As various comments have been made, where they have no competition fares rocket. Good publicity is key to a good operation, as is customer service and consistency which I believe First lack? One thing I can take from the changes is, although routes have been cut, where routes remain they are a lot simpler with less small changes and route number differentiations (ie 1/1A are now the 11)

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    8. First Southampton has been available for sale for several years according to insiders. The problem is that no one wants to buy it. Now that they are ditching all their base contract work and some more routes, it is even less attractive, especially with their huge depot costs. Bluestar are gradually spreading onto nearly all of Firsts routes and it looks obvious that they are cleverly side stepping any competition arguement. They still have competition from the greens and oranges, with Xela apparently getting ready to take a bigger role, with their increase in operating licences. So at least two of our local operators are circling like vultures, waiting for the final death of First, which now seems certain by summer, to coincide with the end of Brockenhurst contract work, in my opinion.

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  9. Am I correct in thinking there are further changes from First are due mid-February??

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    1. The only change I am aware of is the re-routing of Bluestar 7 via Lordshill Way, two weeks after its introduction!!

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    2. If Bluestar had been able to register the route two weeks earlier, they would have run it via Lords Hill Way from the start, but as it happened, there was less than 56 days when they decided to step in, so they sorted a short notice registration of the route with less than the normal 56 days notice, meanwhile they submitted a normal registration with the Traffic Commisioner.

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    3. I think if you look at the timing of the application, they had already applied to run the 7 all the way to Lordshill, and then had to do a short time application to take it over early. This may explain why they were able to react so quickly? In other words, they were planning their next attack, but ended up looking like the good guys!

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  10. More cut backs are rumoured in Dorset.

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    1. Wouldent be surprised as now they run the trains if the x54 is for the chop

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  11. Unconfirmed reports today suggesting that after the first round of redundancies from the 12 and school bus withdrawals, there are more to come from the early termination of Brockenhurst College contract. This has come from one of the guys currently working on it apparently. No idea if it is true, but if it were, surely this would be the beginning of the end?

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  12. Why has the Brockenhurst contract been ended early? Have First upset the client in the same way as they upset (as mentioned above) or have they asked to be released?

    It certainly doesn't read as if the future is very good.

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    Replies
    1. Rumours also that Yellow Buses wish to hand back the 6 sub contracts for Brock College meaning First would need to run dead from Southampton to places like Wimborne, West Moors and a few starting points along the coast between Keyhaven and Southbourne.
      They may have buses and staff available following the other withdrawals but would all that dead mileage tip the balance for them. They did say they were surprised to win the contract so maybe they under priced??

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    2. I think you can bet it was substantially under priced. It is rumoured to be 10 grand a year less than the previous incumbent was charging, which sounds like a desperate attempt to convince Firsts bosses that they were winning a battle down here. Add in running much more dead mileage from Southampton rather than from Lymington, and it really never could have added up to a profitable tender. No wonder the big bosses at First have decided to pull the plug, if these reports are confirmed. Today's rumour is that they will carry on until the summer break, but whether this is the contract only, or the whole shooting match, we will see? I have no idea what it does, but I also heard a rumour that First have lost the little contract bus that runs around Chandler's Ford? Anyone know what it does, or whether this is true please?

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    3. Aviva Park and Ride service. Yes First have either lost it or terminated it, not sure which.

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  13. Also the ‘late’ buses from Kings School, Winchester, two routes at 5.00pm towards Southampton being withdrawn, as reported on Radio Solent this morning.

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    1. Apparently First wanted a significant increase!

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  14. I know some further changes are going ahead at First in Southampton:
    -11: will have the same timetable Monday-Saturday (from 8-9 buses an hour to just 6), at some point before Easter.
    -40: will be withdrawn at the end of July (this route was once a 4 service to Totton via General Hospital).

    Some changes I predict:
    - 2: reduced to 6 bus per hour, Mon-Sat
    - 3: reduced to 6 bus per hour, Mon-Sat
    - 6: reduced to 1 bus per hour, Mon-Sat: 1 bus per 2 hours Sun+BH;
    - 9: rerouted to serve Harefield and then Sholing, reduced to 1 bus per hour Mon-Sat, late journeys on weekdays and Sunday Service: Withdrawn;
    - 13: withdrawn;
    - Brockenhurst College contract will end early and GSC will step in.

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  15. Such is the cost of all the leather seating, free wifi and a turn up and walk on service.

    What First need is a period of cost cutting by offering the basic needs cheap.

    They did not have this problem when it was all Leyland Nationals with drafty windows and bench seats.

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    Replies
    1. Cant see todays society cope without a usb charger/plug socket or wifi

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    2. Considering it`s the government that are funding the free Wi-Fi on buses,it wouldn`t save First any money by scrapping it!

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    3. Considering the grant was only for the initial fitting, with the operators responsible for subsequent vehicles and the ongoing cost; yes it would save money.

      Likewise, the grant in September 2015 for wifi and audio-visual next stop information on Stagecoach buses has gone well.... most buses here have their AV Next stop turned off or intermittent at best. The drivers now know how to bypass the 'loud distractions.'

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  16. SMAFE may well be correct, but I expect Eastleigh Borough will have something (a lot!) to say about any cuts on the 6.

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    1. I am actually pleased to see First go. Am I the only one thinking there is a huge gap from Bluestar on the Eastern side of the city?

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    2. You have to wonder whether there is some kind of conspiracy going on? Maybe there is an off the record agreement that says that First will run certain eastern routes from Hoeford, when they pull the plug on Southampton depot? Meanwhile Bluestar inherit the western and main city routes gradually to make everything "look right". This would protect the new development near Whitely for First. Let's see whether Bluestar get to buy the First depot at a knockdown price, and a man from First mysteriously appears in the soon to be vacant second in command job at GSC, eh? We would then know that the whole thing was a big business stitch up of golf course meetings.... Just a theory and completely from my own vivid imagination, of course.

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  17. Xelabus has taken on St Annes and King Edward VI school contracts adding 5 more buses to the fleet. First gave notice to the schools to end the contracts. xelabus has just had authorisation to have 10 more operating discs raising number of buses operated to 40.

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  18. Well that's as conclusive as it can possibly be. All contract work terminated, and whenever they decide, 56 days notice, and they are out of here! For goodness sake will someone tell the poor souls still working there? Surely they have a right to know that First are playing with their livelihoods? Maybe a Daily Echo headline will make them come clean about what's going on.... Shall we make the call?

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    1. Not conclusive at all, and be careful what you wish for. If First did disappear, Go Ahead would probably jack their fares up to the same extortionate levels as they charge of the Isle of Wight. I for one don't want to pay those stupid fares so I am very happy for First to stick around and compete.

      If the Southampton Echo was a half decent paper it would already be on the story but as it is a very sad apology for a newspaper..........

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    2. Southern Vectis now offer multi-day ticket bundles for the less frequent bus user,which works out pretty cheap.They have also got short hop tickets available £1.50 for a single.I have also found Southern Vectis drivers to be very polite and helpful.

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    3. Agree about the better value vectis fares. They are very clever with their pricing, and avoid making it an attractive proposition for any serious challenge to be mounted against them, or it would have happened by now.

      Returning to the almost certain withdrawal of First, yes Bluestar will no doubt want to return fare levels to those they enjoyed before First got desperate, meaning that the silly unaffordable fares, such as the six pound weekly will go, but they will also not want to charge so much that an alternative operator may see the City as easy pickings. In reality, with all the additional revenue that they will pick up, they probably won't need to go too mad.

      Witnessed a very interesting conversation today, when a First driver was telling someone about all the exciting plans and new vehicles that their management have promised the staff that stick with them, for 2019. The person he was talking to simply replied "And you believe them? You are all out of work this September!"

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  19. Damory (GSC) to the rescue:

    As listed on today’s Traffic Commissioners list for route 5 serving Crossways. Ditched by First this weekend.


    Details are on Traveline with at least 4 round trips Dorchester, Crossways, Weymouth and six days a week from Monday, 22 January.

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    1. Seen last 2 days on 5 have been 2731(tue) 2730(wed) both on the working that in weymouth around 1400.
      Axe valley have had solo mx56abo in exeter think that was on the 52 see this bus a lot around morecombelake around 1600 so wondering if the 52 fits in between schools

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  20. Saw on the Bluestar FB page,someone asking what time the first no.7 was through Millbrook.Why don`t people just look on the website,it`s hardly taxing is it?

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    Replies
    1. Cause they know some idiot will spoon feed them the info.

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  21. Perhaps if First weren`t SO greedy,Bluestar wouldn`t need to come to Southampton residents aid and take over routes they keep ditching!

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    1. Not sure what you mean about First being greedy? Certainly they got desperate and tried lots of unsuccessful routes, over zealous scheduling, and a disastrous fare competition, all of which anyone with a grasp of math could have predicted as a failure from the start. Mismanaged yes, greedy probably not.

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    2. They just seem to have come to Southampton to cherry pick the most lucrative routes(City red)and seem focused on those ,rather than investing in Southampton ,as Bluestar are doing,which shows how greedy they are!

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    3. Trouble with FirstBus was how unoriginal they were. Eg they had their 17/17A routes whereas BStar had their 18 route but they decided to scrap them & create the 2 to replicate the 18 route.
      Um, what about customer choice? Left Millbrook route saturated with 18's & 2's whereas 12 route got less & less. So no choice as such as they copied BStar route, same as they did when it changed from the 10 to the 2 in Oct. No more New Rd into town, just follow the 18 on Kingsway! Copycat bus they are only.

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    4. Had to laugh @ First So'ton fb page as they claim to be making travelling easier. Wi-Fi, vocalised stops well I've not had WiFi on First in yrs & the next stops thing hardly works esp of late! They were replying to a lot of folk on fb saying how little they are making on routes incl the 13. They only get a smidgen of every concession fare & basically implying that they barely break even on most trips.

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    5. Anon, 21 Jan at 07.36

      As I understand the rules, the concessionary fares reimbursement is meant to be balanced so that the operator is both no better off and no worse off than if the passholder was paying the normal fare. In some areas of the country, the local authority hasn't kept in balance, keeping the reimbursement at the orignial level, and the operators have been losing money. There have been some old-established named giving up in the last ten years and for this reason.

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    6. Anonymous21 January 2018 at 00:53
      I believe if you look at the fleet profile, you'd likely find that both fleets are roughly the same age. Most operators do tend to invest more regularly in their flagship routes, including Bluestar, who have invested recently in routes 1, 4, 9 and 18 I believe? All of which are their 'flagship' routes, or routes with no competition and high usage.

      Anonymous20 January 2018 at 23:40
      If routes have fairly good patronage and another operator thinks these withdrawn routes are commercially viable they will attempt to operate them as a gesture of goodwill and to try and make the service work which makes them seem like 'the good operator'.

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    7. On First`s FB page they say they only operate in areas where there is significant demand.

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  22. This is copy/paste from fb First Soton in reply to when someone said she can't get a seat on 13 when it's really busy:
    It’s about the revenue we take for the journey as opposed to the number of people travelling. We just get a fraction of the average fare when a concessionary pass is used.
    Any thoughts?

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    1. Depends how you account for those passes. If you look at it from the point of view that when you add up the amount of money taken from passes, that they pay for your entire fuel bill, then they are well worth having. Without them, we would have half the number of bus services! It's an empty seat, or 80p, take your pick....

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    2. I would post a comment on First`s FB page,sadly I can`t as they blocked me for criticizing them about something.First blocking free speech!

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    3. Disgusting!Boycott First then,if they have a problem with free speech!

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    4. Both First and Bluestar ban folk from their FB pages. I am banned from Bluestar for daring to point that the 18s regularly ran in convoys of 3 or 4 every 20 minutes. Crime of the century appaerently!

      What I do have a problem with is the retard who posts on here without using proper punctuation. And often way past their bedtime so they will be very over-tired for school tomorrow.

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    5. Please keep it civil. No need for those types of comments here. Some people were unable to learn punctuation or spelling, due to a poor school system at the time. Phonetics has much to answer for!
      Everyone can see 18s running together, as one can with the 3. The difference is that First are much better at getting them back on time, whereas Bluestar seem to allow the problem to continue for hours on end, despite having a dedicated route supervisor, who seems to lack the technology that he needs to solve the problem. He is often seen riding around aimlessly on the bus, instead of being in a control room in town, from where he could easily pop outside to split them up.

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    6. Completely agree. Why Bluestar are so poor at running the 18 is beyond me. It is a goldmine. They new cross-city 7 is no better; seeing 2 run together is not that uncommon.

      I find Bluestar's incessant spin considerably grating but still more impressive than their operational performance!

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    7. I think that Bluestar made it easy for First to come in and take a share of the 18. If they had properly managed their route supervision, a challenge probably would not have been as successful. They still have no grip on it, even with all the technology available to them. This is a people and resources issue, which they have managed very badly.

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    8. Bluestar service control has been terrible for years, right back to Solent Blue Line days. IME its been slightly less bad lately, not sure whether because of better control or more realistic timetabling. Still a very long way to go though.

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    9. Their commercial team does adjust running times based on the real time data - but they are based in Poole with no first hand local knowledge. Supervisors have been poor for years but the management gave them no help and were quick to disappear if there were problems and just discipline supervisors for mistakes.

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    10. Yes they work in Poole but trust me they are passionate about what they do and have an incredible wealth of local knowledge. I know some of them

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    11. They can also be seen out and about in Southampton very regularly

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    12. Really? This would seem very odd as the only supervisors that they have are office based in Totton and Eastleigh! Except for the lovely old chap who is the route supervisor on 18s, who is usually riding round on 17 or now the 7 route..... Everything except what he is supposed to do.

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  23. Just think if Thatcher hadn`t privatised the buses in the mid 80`s, we would still have a great bus service in Southampton today.The stupid cow seemed to have a hatred of buses,even publicly saying that if you were a man over fourty and still using a bus ,that you were a failure.

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    1. We do still have a great bus service here, but only the blue bit! Crikey, if you had your way we would still have no doors on it and a conductor hanging off the back with a fag in his mouth! Not saying she did everything right, but thank goodness the unions don't run this country any more, or your fares would be much higher than they are.

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    2. would this be the same unions that have caused massive disruption to Southern Rail passengers over the last year or so?Or the unions causing strikes on South Western trains.The unions are very much still able to cause chaos.

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    3. Yes, they can still cause a bit of disruption, but nothing like pre Thatcher days and only in certain sectors. No chance in the local bus world, where they are fragmented and fighting between themselves a lot of the time. Membership is probably only half of the workforce I would think, and split between different unions.

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    4. Ahhh yes, the old union argument.

      Of course as you mention Southern, now running along to Southampton without a second member of staff on-board on a regular basis, First must be rubbing their hands together at this one.

      Running across the Netley line with no guard because John Doe dared to want to take a weeks holiday will play right into the vulnerable masses using the bus more.

      Don't believe me? Many Southern services, sometimes run with an OBS, will transfer to Driver Only Thameslink in December 2018.... with most of the non-railway shouting 'we did not see this coming.'

      Already... SWR are using the same arguments and promises that GTR used throughout the last 18 months....

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  24. There are complaints on FB and Twitter about the new 7's reliability.

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    1. Yeah they will moan about anything! The one problem that it has, as a cross city service, is that it will sometimes suffer delays. But even then, it will be far superior to anything that First offered previously.

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    2. I hear there was a major traffic hold up on Portsmouth Road this morning, much worse than normal, may be linked to the problem on the M27 that the echo were reporting.

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    3. Perhaps if more people actually paid attention to traffic bulletins on local radio stations,like Wave 105 and Radio Solent at breakfast time,they would be more aware of possible hold -ups to their morning commute.

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    4. Anonymous23 January 2018 at 20:32
      Why would a service running late, likely due to poor route planning (cross-city services don't work without good infrastructure) be better than First? Another typical anti-First comment found here.

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    5. There is a very high likelihood that the driver may give an apology and an explanation for his late arrival with Bluestar, unlike at First, whose drivers normally ignore and avoid contact with passengers, due mainly to their silly and unnecessary screen. Not anti First at all, just speaking as I find! I honestly don't think that anyone can plan for the types of hold up that cross city services endure.

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    6. They obviously do cause hold ups so why not split the services?

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    7. Whether or not to split cross town services is something that every operator grapples with. There is no doubt that they cause delays, but on the other hand they also clearly create useful and popular through links which wouldn't exist otherwise. The correct balance to strike has to be determined on a route-by-route basis, with consideration of the traffic conditions on each route and the value of the through links.

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  25. As someone posted above, all problems stem from deregulation and privatisation in the eighties. We had a good bus network in Southampton where profitable routes cross subsidised less profitable ones and where services were run for the benefit of all rather than just shareholders.

    I recognise that local councils, starved of cash as they are, are probably not able to start running bus services directly again. But I would like to see them regulating services like TfL does in London, specifying routes, frequency etc and then letting bus cos tender to run them either for subsidy or as commercial services.

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    1. Wouldn't all councils like to have millions available to be spent on excessive amounts of buses which carry fresh air for most of the day. We can only imagine, as bus patronage there also falls. Areas should follow examples set in places such as Oxford, where bus travel is growing, with joint ticketing and low fares.

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    2. Unknown 0725 - not true. There were unending service cuts in the 1970s and 1980s, poor quality buses and surly staff.There are no cuts here - as one company gives up a route, another one takes it over, with no interruption to service. Looks like a market working well to me!

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    3. Your homage to the free market would be more believable if there weren't whole areas of Southampton that have no bus services when they did before. Southampton was well known for having a consistent modern bus fleet (Atlanteans) and this worked in cooperation, rather than in competition, with the nationalised Hants and Dorset. But, I agree, we are stuck with private ownership for the foreseeable future, how about addressing the point about regulation?

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    4. Difference was that there were large subsidies before 1986. One of the main objectives of deregulation was to reduce these subsidies, and this indeed happened. Southampton's network now has negligible subsidy. A move to economic regulation wouldn't alter this, so it wouldn't result in a better network, as there would still be no subsidy. What would change would be an increase in costs, with additional people brought it to manage the contracts - just look at the huge number of people employed by TfL, which doesn't actually operate a single bus. Must all be paid for somehow.

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  26. As an employee of Southampton City Transport in the 1970s the network was far superior than today. The only changes that were made were not cuts but changing to one man operation and the Itchen Bridge opening in 1977 opened up new links across the city. In 1981 Shirley depot closed and the last conductor buses were withdrawn, however the network never changed in service level and new links were introduced in the 1980s with Citylynx, re-introduction of crew buses with Routemasters and new route 16 plus 23. the 1970 and 1980s were times of change but the network never suffered like it is today.

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  27. Give the air qaulity issues in the city,one of the worst cities in the UK apparently,it would be nice if the council assisted the bus operators by sorting out congestion hotspots,created more bus lanes,and used some of the car park income to support services perhaps? They will be obliged to cut pollution levels soon,so what plans do they have? If First do quit,surely Stagecoach will fill the competition gap? For a major port city,the overall road management is very poor.

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    1. This is a catch-22 situation. For bus lanes to be effective they need good bus services and passengers on those buses. Currently you sit in a traffic jam next to a poorly used bus lane just adding to the air pollution.

      Whilst the bus companies can complain that they don't get the infrastructure support they need, they also don't seem to be over endowed with social responsibility. Once a bus route is withdrawn especially in rural areas, it effects lives. Jobs are lost, people become isolated and so on. Reinstating the service is a good move, but it is too often , too little, too late. The lives have changed.

      In Southampton you can see that many bus pull-ins have been replaced by stops where the pavement juts out into the road. The bus companies have abandoned the Bullar Road gyratory in favour of a stop on Bitterne Road. These actions may help the bus companies, but they also serve to increase the traffic congestion and the air pollution

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    2. I agree it seems logical that if First were to leave then Stagecoach would move in, and probably turn the whole operation around like they've done in Wigan!

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    3. Would Stagecoach actually want to take First's operations in Southampton though, giving as they know what they are up against as Bluestar have made the Southampton-Winchester corridor so luxurious, that no other operator would dare try and compete with them on that route, as they wouldn't be able to offer the luxuries that Bluestar have! I think, if First do leave, which all the signs seem to suggest they will, it'll be a repeat of Barnstaple, Devon, where Stagecoach wanted to buy out First, but weren't allowed by the Office of Fair Trading (or whatever they're called now!) and so First had to close down, with Stagecoach registering their own replacement bus services. I think this will happen in Southampton, with Bluestar registering replacement routes for the lost First services. Perhaps the 16 could be extended to Weston to replace First's 11, and the 17 extended to Thornhill to replace First's 3. They'd have to launch a new route to replace the 6, or extend an out-of-town route to cover it - the 6 from Lymington for example.

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    4. I can see no way that Stagecoach would want to try to compete with Bluestar either. I heard that they were offered the Southampton routes some time ago, but did not feel it worthwhile. Bluestar have done a great job in ensuring that the link between Winchester and Southampton is well protected and I believe further enhancements are in the pipeline to better protect the Eastleigh area? Not sure if they will have the capacity to fully take over when the inevitable happens with First, so I would expect Xela to get the Hamble route, which fits their profile better, being a bit out of the way.
      It will be interesting whether First will be running the Marwell route this year. If they do, they may make it to the autumn, if not I expect them to be gone by summer. Anyone know the plan?
      I also hear that Bluestar are bringing in more capacity on the 18 route, with the Bournemouth M1 and M2 vehicles favourite to land there soon, as they are being replaced, any day now?

      Regards our polluted and congested City, who was the bright spark who got rid of bus lay-bys and narrowed Shirley? Every time a bus needs to stop, or a car wants to turn right, the whole place grinds to a halt, making pollution far worse. I still believe that Southampton is no more polluted than any other City, except when large shipping is in dock (the equivalent of one million cars per ship, apparently!), and that our new clean air zone will kill off town completely next year. Maybe First are right to choose to go now!

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    5. Traffic calming!

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    6. Completely agree with Anon at 01.17 regarding Shirley. I would imagine bearing in mind the potential improvement for pollution the council could successfully get Government money to rip out those wider pavements and install a bus lane for nearly the whole way down from Shirley Precinct to Foyes Corner. It would be a pretty embarrassing change to make mind. Also by the time it's done we could have a lot less buses on that route anyway - if we did have just one company operating it's pretty much guaranteed they would switch to double decker's as capacity would be more important than frequency.

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    7. Or possibly a middle way? I know I'd take a single decker every 10 minutes instead of a double decker every 20 minutes!

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    8. If what I hear turns out to be correct, the single deck seating capacity will not change that much, but the standing capacity will be immense at 61 people! Double deckers are a pain with the slower seniors insisting on going upstairs, and then down again 3 stops later! Possible role for the twin door Unilink vehicles, when they are replaced in September however?

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    9. Wish all buses were twin door like Unilink ,it would really speed things up on really busy routes.

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    10. With the latest timetable changes from both operators, the Shirley corridor daytime frequency has a total of 34 buses an hour - 16 from First, and 18 from Bluestar (yes, Bluestar now operate the majority of buses on the Shirley corridor for the first time). If there was only one operator frequency would definitely be cut - using larger capacity buses I think you could see 2,3,17 and 18 ending up as two routes each at 6 minute frequency - cutting total buses an hour by 10 to 24 - still a bus every 2 1/2 minutes.

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    11. Anonymous27 January 2018 at 19:40
      I reserve my right to travel on top, but agree it's stupid for anyone at all to do so for a short urban hop.

      Just think though, how much worse it'd be, if we wrinklies were faffing about for cash. Younger members of society, specially in school hols, bring the same problem with loading times.

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    12. Anonymous28 January 2018 at 01:05
      I fail to see how these could become 2 routes without lengthening journey times, possibly 3 routes one as something like 17/17A with buses every 12 minutes via Lordshill Way and Aldermoor Avenue and every 6 minutes to Millbrook?

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    13. So is it being said that Go South Coast are moving the Volvo single-decks currently at Poole, on HF12-plates, from Poole to Eastleigh to do the 18, replacing buses three and a half years newer, and with less seats?! That makes a lot of sense...deckers I could understand...

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    14. Yes, that does seem to be the plan. Only a few less seats, lots more standing room, and fully compliant with the clean air zone thing, so age of vehicle completely irrelevant as far as the customer is concerned. Much nicer layout than the enviro range and after a refurb they will look brand new. Who cares what the number plate says? They give a great ride and are much quieter in operation. The E200s will then replace the Citaro fleet, which will give the whole Southampton fleet a massive reduction in age overall.

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    15. 12 reg Volvos will be Euro 5 engines; unless you know different, the SCC requirement will be at least for Euro 6. Expensive re-engineering would be required; why would GSC bother. AIUI the plan is to keep the 12 regs at Poole and get rid of (most of) the 54/05 plates; unless GSC can't afford new E20D replacements for the Citaros and this is Plan B.........

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    16. Anon 10:16 - this is what I've been led to believe, with the 12-plate Volvos replacing the older Volvos at Poole on the other Poole routes. It's possible a lot of their plans have gone out the window if Southampton are only allowing Euro 6 into the city, as that means a lot of the current fleet may well need replacing or re-engineering. They've just received five single-deck Scanias from Poole at a double-deck Scania from Southern Vectis, all fully repainted into Bluestar livery, which seems odd as they can't possibly be Euro 6?!

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  28. First today announce the cancellation of the X54 (Poole to Weymouth) from the end of March - end of current school term. Some journeys operate via Lytchett School for DCC.

    Another of this blogs predictions come true!

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    1. Such a shame as it was a great way to spend the day out in the summer months.

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    2. Remember when you could go all the way from Bournemouth Castlepoint to Exeter without changing. Let's hope Go South Coast see the opportunity for a regular Poole to Weymouth route across one of their Breezer, more or Damory brands.

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    3. The 5 that gsc do covers from poxwell-weymouth and the 40 from wareham-poole so it only the bit through wool which has a train service so there is alternative for paying passengers also moreton station is around that way. Be intresting to see if the x55 fhad been operating last few seasons will return

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    4. Except it’s not been cancelled, just split at Wool with two new X54 registrations on the DVSA.

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  29. Only a small scale withdrawel but a case of history repeating as stagecoach withdrew the x27 shortley after the swt franchise was awarded to the. In the 90s

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  30. British Rail's Network South East and the 1980's before privatisation was a successful and calming period. A lot of the strikes had died away after the 1970's. Bring back the buffet cars on trains! Bring back Motorail from Brockenhurst! Bring back bus stations with cafes serving coffee and chips!

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  31. Prefer the Scania`s used on Bluestar 7 to the buses used on the 18.

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    1. They will soon be Volvo on the 18.

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  32. There seems to be considerable unrest at Empress Road for First with staff saying, right or wrong, that RATP the French company who own Yellow buses in Bournemouth have been meeting management. Could this be true? If so it would be a new owner again and would they be like they are in Bournemouth alongside MORE? Yellows have already opened a new depot in Poole so could this be another attack on Go Ahead in Southampton who own MORE in Poole? For the chap who asked about Marwell this year - yes First have a contract with the company there so it will return from Easter. The Yellow school bus network officially finishes on 9th February and all of there work appears to be divided up between Go Ahead, Xelabus and Wheelers. So that just leaves a depleted network in Southampton ripe for a take over?

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    1. RATP are already in a mess in Poole, and have made little or no impression on Go Ahead, so I cannot imagine that they would risk fighting on 2 fronts, knowing what they are up against. Go ahead would be very happy to have RATP as their opponent, as they are no better managed than First, in my opinion.

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    2. Had a chat with a YB driver the other day who says they're looking to re-do the network again in March.

      Not sure how accurate or hyperbolic that is, but the changes from last year are still pretty unpopular. They've been slowly changing routes back to what they were prior to the re-cast anyway.

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  33. What did interest me recently was when First were employed on rail replacement brought buses and drivers down from Bristol?? What cost when they could have sent drivers down if they are short at Empress Rd and use THEIR buses? I understand the First Bristol drivers were completely lost in Southampton and had to be guided by Xelabus staff and Network Rail people?
    This seems a complete lack of management arranging the most cost effective way of providing staff and buses?

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    1. I note on traveline c19 service Salisbury brockenhurst college is reg to first bath/west of England! . wonder what depot this runs from,westbury?

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  34. Looks like this particular thread has broken the record for the most comments in the history of this blog.

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  35. It looks like the whole area could be recast later in the year if First do go, some radical changes could be made if GSC end up as the prime operator for the Greater Southampton area, I will throw an idea in the mix, divert the 8 after leaving Totton via Wimpson , Coxford/SGH, Lordswood an Hill Lane to City providing a link form Waterside & Totton to SGH and restoring a link from Lordswood Upper Shirley and Hill Lane to Station and City. For shorter journeys to town from Marchwood & Rushington a change to the 9 could be made at Rushington Rdb, and from the 11 & 12 & X7 at Totton for the Hospital.

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    1. Your ideas would be very helpful, in fact I suggested something similar to First when they tried to compete on the Waterside.

      The problem is bus services are there to make money, passenger convenience is less of a priority

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    2. Well I doubt anyone travelling from Marchwood to Southampton, the core purpose of the 8, would think the idea was very helpful!

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  36. Has anyone else noted an increase in grumpy drivers and those who don`t acknowledge you when you say "thanks",on Bluestar lately?

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    1. Yes, they have taken on a few ex First drivers who have not yet got used to dealing with humans again! The good news is that the vast majority continue to be cheerful individuals who are very polite indeed. Give the rehabilitation programme for ex First staff a little longer please!

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    2. They seem to have plonked them on to BS18 and BS4 for some reason.You certainly notice the difference.

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  37. I think the 8 on first bus could be the next to go

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  38. Yes I agree and they could remove the 13 if they wanted and Xelabus X10 could divert via Harefield for Bitterne and the City Centre

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