Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The clash of Calmore

First have retaliated to the planned launch of Bluestar 19, which duplicates their Three, with the announcement that on the same date, 22nd September, First will launch City Red 1 to Calmore, designed to take custom away from Bluestar 12.

This brings First back to Totton for the first time since 2014. Our verdict: It won't last, but Bluestar 19 probably will. First haven't successfully taken a route over from Bluestar in the past, but Bluestar have made a success of routes that First have given up on.

Over in Portsmouth, First have some minor changes from 1st September.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Bluestar 19 to take on First Three

Bluestar have announced a new route, the 19, which will start on 22nd September competing directly with the eastern half of First's Three.

This is significant for several reasons.

  1. The first is that this half of the Three is First's last high frequency route in Southampton that does not face direct competition from Bluestar. This further weakens the economic viability of First Southampton.
  2. The second is that in September 2015, First launched their then route 10 directly duplicating this side of Bluestar 18 to Thornhill via Bitterne. They wanted to kick Bluestar out of Thornhill and run both routes themselves. They stopped serving the Thornhill via Bitterne route in January 2018, seemingly content with just the Three running the Fairfax Court via Woolston route. Now the shoe is on the other foot and Bluestar is coming for the Three.
  3. The third is that First at a corporate level is in disarray. It wants to separate its UK bus division from the rest of the business, but nobody seems clear how this is going to happen. They've recently sold a depot up in Manchester to Go Ahead and one in Bolton to Rotala (to jubiliation from locals I should add - the First brand is tainted in many areas), so nothing can be ruled out. This is the time for Bluestar to make a grab for territory before another company with possibly more ambition (even if it's still First Bus, just legally separated from the rest of First Group) takes over.

So what happens now? It really depends on what happens at a corporate level with First.

  • If the bus business is merely spun off into a separate entity, they could decide to close unviable operations, which Southampton may by then have become. 
  • If it's sold in one big job lot, then it depends who buys and how much they think they can make a go of what First couldn't - National Express might be in a position to revitalise the operation and would face few regulatory concerns as their existing bus operations tend not to overlap with First elsewhere in the country. Or another company from outside the UK or outside of the transport sector could fancy their chances.
  • If it's broken up bit by bit, then anything could happen. On its own, Southampton is probably unattractive to potential buyers in its current state, but if it's bundled up with Portsmouth and/or Weymouth, then there's hope of it surviving. 

For now I'd say it's 50/50 whether Bluestar will still face a serious competitor in Southampton in 2 years time.

Stagecoach 700 has a new timetable for the section between Portsmouth and Flansham from tomorrow. Details here. The main changes are to early morning journeys.

In Bournemouth, Yellow Buses have new timetables on many routes from 1st September. The full timetables are yet to be published but some details can be found here. The 1a's extension to New Milton is doubled in frequency and the 6's extension to Wimborne also stays.

There will be changes at the start of September on many routes of Bluestar, First Portsmouth, Stagecoach Winchester and Southern Vectis too. More on them as we get it.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

RATP sells Yellow Buses / Summer days out

RATP, owned by the French taxpayer, has sold Yellow Buses of Bournemouth to its local management team. We wish them well as the become the biggest locally-owned bus company in the region. We do so with concern for their future, as Go Ahead, the company behind More, has deep pockets and can afford some fierce competition in order to gain territory. The French taxpayer also had deep pockets, which probably put More off from trying to wrestle too many routes from them. Now that Yellows are local again and no longer part of a multi-national, they could be vulnerable to attack. We'll be watching closely.

The New Forest Tour starts this Saturday, making much of the national park accessible to those of us without a car. It's operated by Go Ahead, so there is integrated ticketing on connecting routes by Bluestar, More and Salisbury Reds, plus the historical Hythe Ferry from Southampton.

Bluestar's South Downs Rambler starts on Sunday, running every Sunday and Bank Holiday until 8th September, providing a link between Winchester and Petersfield via attractions like Winchester Science Centre and Hinton Ampner. See the PDF guide here.

From 21st July, Bluestar 9 is extended to Lepe Beach opening up more day out ideas. There's a great value Lepe Group Dayrider ticket valid for 5 people between Applemore Tesco and Lepe Beach for just £7! PDF leaflet here.

Stagecoach are making a bit of a fuss about the attractions served by the 69 between Winchester and Fareham. The star of the show is Marwell Zoo, but that is only served on Sundays and only from the Winchester end, not from Fareham.

Over on the Isle of Wight, Southern Vectis 27 resumes on 20th July, making it possible to visit Tapnell Farm without a car.

What are your favourite days out by bus in our region? Leave a comment and let us know.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

First restructure & Bluestar strike

We start with the news of a major restructure at First. First Bus is to be separated from the rest of First Group. At the moment it's unclear whether that means it'll be sold, either in parts or in one transaction, or whether it'll just be spun off from the group and floated on the stock market as a separate entity. We'll let you know as soon as First's fate becomes clearer.

Over at Bluestar, there could be some disruption to services this Tuesday 18th June, due to industrial action by members of the RMT. Keep an eye on their website and Twitter feed (which also appears on the right hand side of the desktop version of this page) for the latest details.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

More changes next Saturday, plus Downs Breezer launches

A few changes come into effect next Saturday 25th May:

More M1/M2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 119, X1/X2, X8A plus Purbeck Breezer 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and Durlston Explorer 5. Full details here. The 152 is replaced by an extended 60.

Bluestar 6 has minor changes.

Southern Vectis's Downs Breezer starts for the summer season.

On 23rd April, Salisbury Reds 44 diverted a journey to run via the District Hospital.

The New Forest Tour relaunches on 6th July.

Stagecoach 69 gains some Sunday journeys from 26th May, which will run between Winchester and Bishops Waltham via Marwell Zoo or Fair Oak. It's designed for passengers from the Winchester end to visit Marwell, not from the Bishops Waltham end. Details here. From Eastleigh and Southampton, use First M1 for the zoo.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Monday, 8 April 2019

News round-up

Yesterday, Sunday 7th April saw new timetables on many routes on the following operators:

  • Bluestar - including the extension of the the 3 beyond Boorley Green to Eastleigh and cuts to Hampshire subsidised routes H1/H2, T3/T4, 35 and 36.
  • Southern Vectis - with details of seasonal summer services.
  • First Wessex - with a great new timetable book
  • Yellow Buses - including extensions to New Milton and Wimborne, plus new route 19 to Tower Park on Saturdays.

Other changes that have occurred recently:

Easter services are generally a Sunday service on Good Friday and Easter Monday with normal services at other times. The exceptions:

  • Bluestar: Saturday service on Good Friday on all routes except for the 6, which will have a Sunday service.
  • More: Saturday service on most routes on Good Friday. Sunday service on X1 and X8. No service on 7a, 7b, 7c, 10, 20, 24, 32, 38, 112, 152, U3, X2, Route One, Poole ASDA bus and Ringo
  • Salisbury Reds: Saturday service on Good Friday on routes PR3, PR7, R8, PR9, PR11 & PR15. Special timetable on R1. No service on R3, R7 or R11 on Good Friday or Easter Monday. Sunday service on all other routes.
  • Southern Vectis: Sunday service on Good Friday but usual Friday nightbuses will run on routes 1, 3, 5 and 9.

Looking ahead, Xelabus have some minor changes from 6th May on routes X4, X6/X7, X9 and X10.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

First fare tweeks / Yellows to New Milton & Wimborne / Round up

First have introduced a new fare structure for their services in and around Portsmouth and Fareham. Details here.

In Southampton, First have reduced the price of their FirstWeek Southampton ticket to £8. It was previously £11.

More have brought in extra peak hour journeys on the M1 to relieve overcrowding between Bournemouth and Poole.

Stagecoach have released the new timetables for the 37 and 38 Havant-Petersfield-Alton services, which take effect from 1st April. Cuts are enduced by Hampshire County Council cutting their subsidy, continuing the government's austerity agenda. There are no more through journeys between the 37 and 38, so a change of bus in Petersfield will be needed and timetables no longer necessarily match up.

Yellow Buses have new timetables on most routes from 7th April. The 1a is extended to New Milton and the 6 is extended to Wimborne. Further details here. Some of the new timetables are on Traveline, but not all.

On the Isle of Wight, Southern Vectis have launched their scenic Needles Breezer service for the summer season.

Islanders visiting one of Southampton's hospitals can now use Southern Vectis Rover and Freedom tickets on Bluestar 17 to get to the General and Unilink U6 to get to the Royal South Hants at no extra cost. You'll still need to pay for the ferry I'm afraid.

First 503 (Weymouth-Overcombe) resumes for the summer season from this coming Friday 15th March. Timetable here.

Sunday 17th March sees changes to More's Purbeck Breezer services 40, 50 and 60.

See all upcoming changes across the region at-a-glance here.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Changes this weekend in Ventnor, Fareham and Christchurch

Xelabus X17 got a new timetable last Wednesday. It's down from two return journeys a week to just one, still on a Wednesday. It's extended to Eastleigh, but is only of use to anyone heading east towards Petersfield. Just 10 years ago, this route had 4 return journeys a day, 6 days a week. See the new timetable here.

Looking ahead to Friday 1st March, and we have a change of operator on route 31 in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. It transfers from Mark Tutty trading as Mini Bus Plus to Top Taxi. There is no change to the route or the timetable.

Sunday 3rd March sees changes to the following First routes in and around Fareham. Click the route numbers for timetables:

F2 Fareham-Highlands: Frequency halved from hourly to every 2 hours.
F3 Fareham-Portchester: Cut from six days a week to one. Now runs Wednesdays only.
10 Fareham-Gosport: Early evening service cut. Last journeys now depart before 1530.
11 Fareham-Alverstoke: Cut from 6 return journeys a day Mon-Sats to 4. Last journeys now depart before 1500.
20 Fareham-Wickham: Some weekday morning and early evening journeys cut. Saturday service halved to 4 return journeys instead of 8.
21 Fareham-Stubbington: Cut from 11 weekday journeys to 5/6 and from 5 Saturday journeys to 4.
27 Rowlands Castle-Emsworth: New timetable with some journeys cut.
28/28A Fareham-Whiteley: Early evening services cut. Saturday service slashed to 2/3 journeys.

Monday 4th March sees Southbourne C1 launch in Christchurch. Details of that can be found here.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Austerity bites harder from Sunday

Hampshire County Council are wielding the subsidy axe on Sunday 17th February, meaning new, generally reduced, timetables on the following routes mainly in Winchester and Eastleigh... click the route numbers to see the new timetables:

Stagecoach E1/E2 Eastleigh-Winchester - Cuts to morning and mid-afternoon journeys. Last bus from Winchester now at 1715 weekdays and 1635 Saturdays.

Stagecoach 6A Winchester-Abbotts Barton - Cut from three days a week to two: Mondays and Thursdays.

Stagecoach 46 Winchester-North Baddesley - The mid-morning journey to Winchester and the mid-afternoon journey from Winchester are cut.

Stagecoach 63 Winchester-Owslebury - Cut from three days a week to two: Mondays and Thursdays.

Stagecoach 66 Winchester-Romsey - Minor changes.

Stagecoach 67 Winchester-Petersfield - Some weekday journeys are cut to run three days a week instead of every weekday.

Xelabus X4 Eastleigh-Hedge End - The 1845 Mon-Sat journey from Eastleigh is cancelled, meaning the last bus is now at 1715 weekdays and 1720 Saturdays. Revised Sunday timetable with 4 return journeys instead of 5.

Xelabus X6/X7 Eastleigh-Hiltingbury - Cut from a combined half-hourly to a combined hourly service Mon-Sat daytimes. Evening service cut, last bus from Eastleigh now at 1815 Mon-Sats. Sunday service cut from 8 to 4 journeys only as far as Velmore.

Xelabus X8 Eastleigh-Boyatt Wood - Evening service (currently Thurs-Sats) withdrawn. Sunday daytime service restored with 4 return journeys.

Xelabus X9 Eastleigh-Bishops Waltham - Sunday service between Eastleigh and Colden Common withdrawn.

Xelabus X10 Southampton-Bishops Waltham - Two additional weekday morning journeys to Southampton. Minor changes, despite what Traveline says. See the correct timetable in this booklet issued by Hampshire County Council.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The slow and painful demise of the 46

There's a new timetable from Monday 4th Feb on Stagecoach 66 and 67 in Salisbury.

Elsewhere, Hampshire County Council cuts bite on 17th Feb. One of the routes affected is Stagecoach 46, which currently runs weekdays only between Winchester and North Baddesley.

Back in 2010 however, it ran 6 days a week and all the way to Southampton City Centre via the General Hospital and Shirley:

In October 2011, the route was curtailed to only run as far as the General Hospital and the Saturday service was withdrawn completely:

January 2012 brought a minor change, with some college services:

Come the summer of 2012 and the contract passed to Velvet (remember them?). The timetable was much as before:

By October, the contract was back with Stagecoach, although they weren't sure how long for:

It turns out they had it for good, the next change coming in January 2015. No longer running to the General Hospital, the southern terminus is now North Baddesley, with another cut to the number of journeys:

No much changed in August of the same year:

September 2016 sees some college services added again:

They disappear again in the current timetable, which started in September 2017:

From the present to the future... from 17th Feb 2019, we're down to three journeys a day from Winchester and just two towards the city:

Who says austerity's over?