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.




179 comments:

  1. The main point of interest here is More 119 which gains a Saturday service which is slightly better than the Monday to Friday service. A rare event knowadays

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    1. I think it's more that they can run an extra afternoon journey on Saturday as the bus isn't required for a school route

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    2. Well they don't run it on Non Schooldays Mondays to Fridays which they could in your analasys However the extra Saturday one runs more than likely as Lymington and Pennigton Town Councils have asked for it

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    3. As Alice says the last bus out is not required for a Priestlands School run and there is no requirement for the buses to cover the 191/193 services from New Milton plus funding from the Town council makes it easier to fit an extra journey within driver shifts. Interesting, though, that the 1st journey from N/Milton appears to run "dead" from Lymington to take up the duty and that the last journey into N/Milton runs "dead" back into Lymington.

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    4. A New Milton outstation perhaps?

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    5. Just park it up somewhere?

      Like outside the drivers house ;)

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  2. From October 2019 The Volvos on the 3 will be Leaving Empress Road and replaced by Max Streetlies from Hilsea Depot

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    1. They've been saying that for years!

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    2. Yes just like some people have been saying for years that First is going

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    3. It is going, but it's a painfully slow withdrawal. 24 routes in 2004, down to just 8 today. No investment, no contract work, no innovation, and drivers queuing up to leave. Why do you think Blue Star have put deckers on all the town routes? They know that all that capacity will be needed within the lifetime of those vehicles.

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    4. Some drivers have told me they are happy at First Bus some drivers that have been there a long time as well as some of the new ones who have just started

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    5. Including one who has been there since 2003 who on 3 or 4 days of the week does the 2010 2110 2210 and 2310 City Red 7 Weekday Departures from the City Centre.

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    6. Ah ! The "First Bashers" are back - did you have a good snooze! No investment - brand new bus depot, plenty of 63, 14 and 15 plate streetlites, plus refurbishment of Volvos, WiFi, Contactless payments ticketing system, mobile tickets....Not sure I get the statement that drivers are queuing up to leave...as anyone can leave any business at a weeks notice....innovation is covered above - no contract work - why borrow work, surely not relying on contract work has to be make the business stronger, or is that not covered these days in economics/business studies ?

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    7. Bluestar have contactless and mobile ticketing and wifi and they also have charging points for phones on their buses and ....

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    8. Also a Couple of Drivers have Left Bluestar to join First due to Bluestars bad management

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    9. Oh dear Reece when will you ever stop listning to drivers tittle tattle.Drivers have always moved round between companies for decades.When they leave one company with some it's because it was so terrible there.You then find after a few years they are back with the one where it was so terrible.If this was so why would some drivers work there for some 30 years plus continuous service.When on sites you look at some postings by individuals and see just how many companies they have worked for,it's quite clear they never settle anywhere and never will

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    10. Either way, neither can be that desperate for drivers.

      I have applied to First Southampton and BlueStar with a provisional Cat D in place and an enhanced CRB already supplied.

      4 weeks and still waiting for any signs of progress.

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    11. Mate do you hold a Car Driving License for 6 months as well

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    12. First Southampton is cutting back its staff management team to the bare minimum. 2 management jobs for the chop including the staff manager position. Several supervisors have also left recently none of there vacant jobs have been replaced. First Southampton is running a skeleton crew now.

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    13. Well with the little that they are left to operate no point in paying wages to staff that no longer have to much to run.No point in paying out wages unneccessarily so it's a good move in getting rid of them

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    14. All more evidence that it is gradually dwindling away to nothing. The eight pound weekly ticket looks to be hurting them badly, which I am certain is the reason bluestar invented it! They are hanging on for now, but the future looks increasingly bleak for First in Southampton. Quick note to Reece....the two drivers that have appeared at First from blues,are not there by choice! Unable to say more, but it has nothing to do with poor management, in fact quite the opposite!

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    15. You mention the word evidence, which is always the best way to support a statement - what evidence have you got to say that the £8 weekly ticket is hurting them badly ? Your memory seems to be short - First introduced the weekly ticket at £5. From what I can see the future hardly looks bleak - probably best described as a small, but focused operation, concentrating on main corridors, rather than lines on a map, with a good fleet (from a customer perspective, I accept that many people have differing views on the type of buses being used, but the vast majority of the public just want clean, tidy, reliable etc). I assume that the new drivers at Bluestar from First were made to leave First from your comment ?

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    16. The evidence is the further cutting of staff numbers at a high level, to minimise costs of their ever shrinking operation, plus the anecdotal evidence from talking to their demoralised staff, who can see a depot of twice the size that is now needed, complete with no new buses for nearly four years.
      Yes, First introduced a five pound ticket, which drove them further into the financial mire. The eight pound weekly was introduced by Bluestar, which looks inspired, as it hits First revenues by a further twenty odd percent, on routes where Bluestar are establishing rapidly.
      Please re read the previous comment about the two newish First drivers who were previously at Bluestar. I could not possibly comment further about the reason that they would not be able to rejoin their previous employer!

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    17. So making efficiencies in a business is a bad thing? (well that’s what you are implying). You are clearly not in the business world? So a discounted ticket by First is disastrous and one by Bluestar is inspired - really ? Again demonstrable evidence you do not understand how business works, let alone the transport business. Both tickets were introduced to stimulate the market and to try and gain customer loyalty.

      Your anecdotal evidence that staff are demoralised - where is this anecdotal evidence? Or is it just an opinion (which is fine, but hardly evidence, anecdotal or otherwise).

      Regarding investment. I think there was quite a large batch of vehicles purchased by first over a couple of years. Where as bluestar have decided on trickling investments policy (neither approach is wrong).

      The depot was clearly built at a moment in time, I believe some of it is rented out (sounds good business to me, to gain some extra income for minimal cost ?) Having depots full and rammed of buses can be a good thing, but only if you are making reasonable to good returns on all services. As we all know the good people of the Isle of Wight help to subsidise those who travel on Bluestar, Swindon and I would throw in parts of More Bus too. Have to remember that go south coast has falling profit figures.

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    18. I would prefer not to enter into a heated debate on this, but would make you aware that I have held several very highly paid positions within the public transport world and understand the business very well indeed. I am not sure that you understand what anecdotal evidence is? Regarding the two tickets being discussed, First started a price war, thinking that it would gain loyalty and patronage, as you rightly observe. It was immediately matched, which served both operations badly. As First was the weaker of the operators, it put them firmly under the spotlight of head office, who made them cut back. The move by Bluestar was made as a direct attack on First to cut any possible profitability, but only on routes where Bluestar were challenging, rather than the main operator. They knew full well that First would have to match it, thus bringing them under further scrutiny. The cutbacks at First would appear to support this.
      Staff at First are jumping over to Bluestar at a very fast rate. Nobody has moved in the opposite direction voluntarily for several years, despite being offered a golden hello of two grand! The reason for this appears to be that First only pay for time at the wheel, which can mean that drivers work a split shift covering eleven hours, but only get paid for around eight. Bluestar pay for an entire shift, deducting only a legal break. Further real evidence that First are not making business economies, rather having to account for every penny. Maybe they could do with a bit of cross subsidy? I would also observe that Go South Coast have an extremely well balanced and sustainable business model, which is the envy of a lot of competitors. This is just an opinion of course, based on my vast experience!

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  3. So... the 60 will basically do what the 152 used to do before the route was split? Or is my memory failing me again?

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    1. Yes, it's back to the days of the old 152 and 154 merger

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    2. I note Southbourne Buses to get a change to its C1 timetable in July 2019

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    3. The C1 changes are small but positive - more afternoon journeys Monday to Friday, leaving Christchurch at 1630 (School holidays), 1710 and 1745. A a result, the 1530 Sat/Hol journey won't operate (presumably to give the driver a break).

      Those two later journeys will be very well timed for those wanting to come home in rush hour, and I hope they are well-used

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    4. The C1 changes will give customers an hourly service on Monday to Friday afternoons during the school holidays departing Christchurch at 1330,1430,1530.1630 then term time and school holidays at 1710 & 1745. To accommodate the additional services without having to send additional resources to the area on Saturdays & School Holidays the 1500 departure will be withdrawn however alternative journeys are available at 1430 or 1530
      Customer Services
      Southbourne Buses

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  4. So First is going.I don't think so.They are I'm sure more than happy with the 8 routes they have left.They have a modern bus fleet of mainly Streetlites which capacity wise are more than enough for the routes they operate.I expect soon the Volvos will go and be replaced by more Streetlites which will be more than ample for the First 3 where it seems to have lost so much custom to Bluestar 17

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    1. Both companies exist for the benefits of shareholders and instead we should have buses like they do in the Channel Islands where any profit made is ploughed back into the community rather than shareholders pockets.

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    2. Plus they don't exist independently of the city. Southampton (and the surrounding area) is changing, which means sometimes bus services aren't needed as much. Things like the growth of the university and tendering of uni routes, opening of the new OS building, closure of the Ford plant, etc will have knock on effects on buses in the area. Changing attitudes towards not only bus travel but also other methods of transport, including walking, will change the demand people have. Plus the prevailing economic conditions and reduction in council funding impacts on bus provision. And this is not only about routes that are run, the type of buses that are used is also affected by these factors (not just "more busy route = double decker" but also thinking about things like interworking with school routes or positioning for peak hours).

      So to say "X company are going to leave because they cut routes and have old buses/Y company are much better because they started a new route and have brand new buses" is pretty simplistic. And if we're going purely on number of routes, Bluestar don't have as many as they used to either (a quick look says ~35 routes back in 2002 compared to about 25 now)

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    3. Bluestar is a completely different operation to what it was back in 2002.For a start it was not a Go Ahead company.Since it's been a Go Ahead company it's improved beyond all recognition to when it was Solent Blue Line.The orriginal Solent Blue Line was a tatty operation to state the least.Tank goodness that's now in the past

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  5. Hi guys. After a long time with no news from me, here I am back with something to tell you:
    - I owe an apology to everyone here, as I was extremely rude with everyone, and I hope we can put my attitude in the past, and that includes drivers, FirstBus and Xelabus;
    - I am leaving the UK for good next month, that’s why my page is now defunct. I failed miserably with my forecasts regarding First. They are not leaving Southampton and it is unlikely that they will ever leave;
    - I don’t think there will be bigger moves in the bus industry, at least in Southampton, for a few years, with just a few tweaks in timetabling but that’s it, as the common patron likes stability over innovation;
    - I am not so sure about operations in Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth, as things there are very volatile, and there will be always big changes, and I am totally unsure if RATP will still run Yellow Buses in the long term, just watch this space;
    - I hope we can have our agreements and disagreements without personally offending anyone.

    I wish you all the best and I shall pop in in here sometime just to give you my perspective of things.

    Best regards

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    1. All the best to you as well, Claudio (and I don't think you've ever been rude to me). I hope you'll pop in from time to time to keep up with the latest from the area.

      Best wishes for your voyage!

      Alice

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    2. It's always a positive sign in a person that they can own the mistakes of their past. Best wishes Claudio.

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  6. Did anyone vote today?

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    1. Oh nice who was your choice in the vote?

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    2. This is a bus blog and NOTHING to do with elections.

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  7. ABF - Anyone But Farage

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    1. Yeah I can't stand that idiot mate

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  8. What an earth has Southampton Bus update got to do with any election of any sort.Stick to the subject on this site which is reporting local bus news

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  9. From July 22nd, the extension of bluestar 9 to Lepe beach is back. I am wondering if they could do the same extension to Calshot beach too (to the service 9 that ends in Fawley), but I understand it may not be possible, as it involves an extra 20 minutes to cover such extension.

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  10. No point.the 8 is under utilised passenger wise to Calshot Beach.Lepe Beach was always more popular back in the past

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  11. There is no service on the 18 at 06.14 from Thornhill to Millbrook and 06:59 from Millbrook to Thornhill, 07:45 from Thornhill to Millbrook, 08:29 from Millbrook to Thornhill, 09:35 from Millbrook to town. The bus will be back in service from 10:02
    Sorry for the delay.

    This would certainly not of happened with First Bus that's for sure

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    1. How do you know a driver shortage wouldn`t happen with First?

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    2. Here Reece, First Southampton were recently advertising for 10 new vacancies available.

      So what shortage of staff might they not have?

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    3. Where does anything say that it was caused by a driver shortage? Admittedly it does seem likely that a driver went sick at short notice, and there was no spare capacity to cover the absence. Incredibly honest of Bluestar to put it on social media. There would just be a stunning silence if it happened elsewhere in my opinion, which it regularly does!

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    4. I agree with Anonymous @01:59.
      I welcome this honesty of Bluestar.
      I think also this was the most likely scenario: short notice sickness.

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  12. The problem is Bluestar are continually asking people to leave their car at home and try the bus.Here we have an example that the first 18 of the day is cancelled.Not good news for the start of the day.Here again there is a correction to another journey cancelled as it was first posted the time in the wrong direction.Whilst it's commendable in them informing the public at times some posting make no sense whatsoever.An example of no sense postings was a few days ago when it was stated due to traffic over Northam Bridge Bluestar 4 was running upto 17 minutes late.What does northam Bridge have to do with Bluestar 4?.

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    1. I think it is inaccurate telling people that Bluestar 4 is affected by the traffic, however, that section of the road tend to affect the whole city, despite this specific route doesn’t serve the bridge nor comes even close to it.
      Bear in mind this was Sunday and only a little fraction of the patronage was eventually affected by this, I would consider worrying if it would happen on a normal weekday, but I understand your concerns.

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  13. Watch out chaps, the First PR team have arrived!

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    1. I don’t know exactly what you mean by this. I learned I have to be very careful with the way I express my opinions, it may be misunderstood by others.

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  14. Yesterday when I was walking past the Empress Road depot I saw an advert for First floor offices to let.

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  15. The bluestar 1 is going to be increased to every 10 Minutes from September 2019 also the 1 will have brand new buses to support the frequency increase meaning more buses for me to photograph with my camera

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    1. Let's hope they have the staff to run them.Would have thought the present 15 minute service was more than adequate between Southampton and Winchester

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    2. Perhaps a driver was winding Reece up by telling him this.

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    3. It was a lady driver telling me this and I have also been told by plenty of other drivers

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    4. I think this one is true my friend is a driver on bluestar and he says the operations manager told him the 1 is going up and five extra buses are on order for it

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    5. Perhaps Andrew Wickham should be tweeted to confirm this

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    6. Anyone had any response from Andrew Wickham yet?

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    7. Making quick maths on the current 15 min frequency, Bluestar 1 uses 9 buses through the route.

      To improve such frequency to every 10 min, Bluestar 1 would need extra 4 buses, increasing the number to 13.

      It is just a rumour, but do anyone know if they bought an outstation somewhere, or even a third depot? Otherwise I don't know if they can really cope with more buses, as I heard they are in full capacity.

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    8. I can confirm that the one route will be going to a ten minute frequency from September. All new fleet with the nine route inheriting the existing airline seat fleet. No new depot or outstation as there is still spare capacity in Barton Park, with a few tweaks.

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    9. Do you know what will be happening with the 58 plate Scanias

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    10. As far as I know, they are staying until at least spring 2020. They are ultra reliable.

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    11. That is brilliant I really love those buses nice sound to them as well

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    12. It's seems Bluestar are going to be all Double Deckers fleet one day as well

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  16. Boring stuff below:
    Whatever happens to First, I think there should be a redefinition of how bus services are numbered in Southampton. For example we have three services numbered 11 (Bluestar, First and Xelabus (X11)).
    What would it best to tackle this problem:
    1. keep things as they are and keep confusing patronage
    2. adding a letter to the route (e.g. B11 vs R11 vs X11)
    3. come to an agreement with all companies and define together a common numbering
    4. intervention of Southampton CC and let themselves choose an appropriate numbering of all services

    I really would like to know your opinion, but keep things simple and polite.

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    1. I think the most likely thing to happen is number 1. They can somewhat justify it in that the two 11s serve different areas, and the X11 has an X. I mean, I think they're wrong, but that's how it works. It's quite similar here in Bournemouth/Poole. From Poole bus station there is a route m1, a route 1 and a RouteOne.

      But my personal view (and generally, not just in cases like these) is that local authorities should have more say in specifying the services that run. Similar to TfL or some of the local PTEs, I think it would reduce 'overbussing' where high levels of competition result in two or more companies increasing frequency to the point where there are mostly-empty buses running every couple of minutes (looking at you Weston). It would also ensure that communities that face the loss (or have lost) their buses have more of a chance to stay connected, and new developments can be more assured of good public transport links.

      Of course, it's not that easy - there's a cost to that which has to come from somewhere (and you can bet the bus companies wouldn't want to pay!), plus the argument that it would prevent companies from competing. But the bus industry as a whole does need some slight tweaks to stay efficient.

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    2. No more confusing than Southern Vectis operating two No.7 routes which for the most part operate totally different routes but according to contributors on here it`s ok as passengers should check the destination board on the bus but why make it so confusing in the first place?

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    3. No, I totally agree it's confusing, I was just trying to put across why operators think it's okay to do.

      There's also a bit of a trend towards named routes, either wholly named (a la Trent Barton) or for more prominent branding of a numbered route (for example, The Star or Buster's Beach Bus), which brings a whole new dynamic - if, for example, More introduced a route 12 running a similar route to Buster's Beach Bus (nominally numbered 12, but I've only ever seen that displayed when they had a subbed-in bus instead of the usual Presidents), would this be confusing? Or would it be confusing to different people - those using at-stop printed info would likely have no issue, but those using online or at-stop electronic departure boards might be more confused. Interesting thought though.

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  17. I can't imagine any person that has reasonable intelegence getting confused with the difference between a First 11 a Bluestar 11 or Xelabus X11.Whatever number these services were given it would confuse someone.An example of trying to help people in Southampton are the Uni-link services which have a letter after their number such as A,C,H-This was done so at the Universiry Interchange those boarding vehicles marked C would know they were bound for somewhere within the City Centre.Those marked A Airport direction those marked H to General Hospital.Even with this Students still board the wrong bus drivers inform Me.The majority of the public have no problem with the current numbering system even the route numbers on the flags clearly show who operates it

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    1. Having worked with Uni students I can say although they may be brainy at History say ,lots of them are thick on general day to day things.

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    2. Having been a Uni student at Southampton and having got on a unibus going the wrong way, I can confirm I am thick as two short planks :D

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    3. I would like to tell you guys that it happens sometimes to customers on Bluestar 3. People tend to ignore the destination and then ask the driver: are you going to St Catherine’s Road? In my humble opinion, a renumbering is needed, so it would eliminate potential confusion in customers.

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    4. Regarding Claudio's post on 28/05/19 at 16:09, I think option 4 would be the best idea, since ultimately, a regulated bus system like London's will put focus on passengers and where they want to go, rather than profit. Southampton CC could take ownership of all routes within the urban area and number each one accordingly.

      If a council takeover isn't possible, another good idea might be for one of the companies to use letters for their routes rather than numbers. It may initially cause confusion but shouldn't be an issue in the long run, since it already works with Stagecoach in Exeter where the lettered routes are city services while numbered ones are interurban.

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  18. What an absolute nonsense-Just proves how many ignorant idiots there are about and most being bus enthuisiests who post on this site.Thank goodness the main bus operators know who these people are and take no notice of them.Most should have been sectioned under the mental health order years ago and put away years ago

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    1. OK, little bit harsh there. And they let me out a couple of years ago so I'm good.

      Ultimately the issue of how much or how little local authorities is a political one. On one hand, some people (including myself) believe that government intervention is required in some markets and the local bus market is one such. Others believe that it's wrong to intervene as private companies should be free from government restrictions on how they operate and what they can do.

      The government's actual position is somewhere between the two - a recent Commons Transport Committee report (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtrans/1425/142502.htm) is well worth a read. They recommend that local authorities have much more freedom on how they regulate their local bus market and even create their own municipal bus operating companies. They fall short of saying LAs *should* franchise routes, leaving it up to the individual area, but note that the current deregulated market has "done little more than slow the decline in bus use" - though of course, some areas buck that trend.

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    2. Someone just pass to me a declaration of insanity. Thanks for that. I just ask for an opinion, I didn't ask to be insulted. But it is the way it is.

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    3. In my view, franchising and direct operation by local authorities isn't necessary. What we should all be aiming for is commercial operators running high quality services *in partnership with local authorities*.

      There are many examples across the UK of operators and Councils working together and achieving great things.

      Quality bus partnerships achieve an ideal scenario (in most cases) whereby the operator provides high quality buses, friendly drivers and reliable timetables whilst the LA provides bus priority and funding for roadside materials & other commercial initiatives.

      A local example of this working to great effect would be the Fareham to Gosport "Eclipse" busway. First provide the buses, drivers & timetables and the LA (in this case Hampshire CC) provided the busway and the bus stops. Seems to work pretty well to me.

      This is much more cost effective than franchising or direct operation from an LA.

      Martijn Gilbert, previously CEO of Reading Buses and now MD of Go North East, recently said that everything he and his team achieved at Reading could be replicated by a fully commercial operator - so long as there's a good partnership with a helpful local authority, like they have in Reading.

      London is often seen as the panacea for bus operation - but it's far from it. The cheap fares are heavily subsidised and unaffordable for TfL, the bus specification is far below the standard expected across the UK (and that's TfL fault) and the traffic is so slow that passengers are, on occasion, preferring to walk as it's quicker.

      Franchising doesn't solve the root problems affecting the industry - congestion and funding. Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, is looking to franchise Manchester's bus operations - often lauding the cheaper fares, standardised look and integrated network it would create.

      He neglects to mention the £700m+ that TfL receives currently and the £billions it has received in the past to get the network, and the growth, to where it currently is. Note that patronage is in decline in London, whereas it's growing in Southampton, Bournemouth, Brighton, Reading and Nottingham!

      He also neglects to mention that all of those goals are the same goals of the newly created One Manchester cohort of operators across Greater Manchester.

      Most operators are part of it and they're looking to improve the operations around Manchester - but they can't do it on their own. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will need to implement congestion-busting bus priority for quicker and more reliable journey times.

      In Southampton, there may be some duplicate route numbers but I doubt it causes my consternation amongst the travelling public. It certainly doesn't require the sledgehammer of franchising or council operation to resolve. The operators could just work together to develop a new network of routes - though this would require the Council to work as an intermeditary.

      We already have the high quality buses, low fares & relatively reliable buses (more bus lanes and bus priority would be required to improve that!)

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  19. No way should any form of Council have involvement with our buses, First and Bluestar do a very good job in Southampton

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  20. "A local example of this working to great effect would be the Fareham to Gosport "Eclipse" busway. First provide the buses, drivers & timetables and the LA (in this case Hampshire CC) provided the busway and the bus stops. Seems to work pretty well to me."

    And how is this different to the rest of the county (and indeed other parts of the country)?

    HCC provide the roads, poles and in some cases the timetable, right across Hampshire.

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    1. They've provided dedicated road space for buses - the busway from Fareham to Fort Brockhurst (with funding secure for the extension to Gosport), a bus gate in Fareham to allow buses to bypass traffic and several traffic lights have bus priority (I believe). That's different to most parts of the Country.

      In terms of the bus stops - they're high quality, large shelters (with branded informative totem poles) compared to the rest of the County/Country. They feature full colour displays which not only show real time info for buses but also trains. That's a level above most bus stops in the Country.

      This helps signify that the Eclipse service is a premium offering with real benefits to car users. It's a step above the other routes in the area/County and that's because of the partnership between the operator and the LA.

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  21. News today seems to suggest First breaking up and selling the UK bus division

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    1. https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2019/05/30/firstgroup-to-sell-greyhound-and-separate-uk-bus-business/
      Not quite!

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    2. BBC News website has the same story

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    3. Guys this is a bit early to speculate stuff. Yes they are splitting rail and Bus companies, so it is easier to sell one of the operations later. Greyhound in the USA is going, and we know little. But what we know are the scenarios only. Too early to tell what to see next.

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  22. Staff were informed today that First Bus is up for sale.

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    1. I hope this don't affect things in Southampton

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    2. Well that's odd.

      The official take on things is that they are splitting up the divisions, nothing about going up for sale.

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    3. They're also selling the US Greyhound business and are "reviewing" their rail operations.

      But as for the bus company, they seem pretty positive, saying that they've put it in a much better position and it's time to separate it from the main Firstgroup.

      What does it mean for Southampton? Likely nothing, other than transferring from Firstgroup Plc to (something like) Firstbus Plc. However, a different company with different directors may look upon individual areas differently.

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    4. Alice, the same end as the operations in Slough, Weymouth and Portsmouth, as their registered office is in Southampton. An eventual selling of the Hants & Dorset operation, it is more than likely that it will go to different companies:
      Portsmouth and Weymouth likely to go to "Go South Coast"
      Slough likely to go to "Reading Buses"
      Southampton likely to go to "Stagecoach"
      All speculation, as what we do best in here.

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    5. Claudio, I agree that Go South Coast would be the best fit for Weymouth, but doubt they'd be too interested in Portsmouth. Never say never though.

      Slough is also most likely to be purchased by Reading Buses - the depot and operations would fit nicely into their Green Line, Thames Valley and Courtney operations.

      The Slough operations are a bit far from the rest of the First operations too, thanks to Bracknell & London being sold off years ago. Not much value for a new operator - apart from a depot located close to Heathrow Airport (ideal for a coach operator?).

      I'd be prepared to wager a decent amount of money that Stagecoach will not purchase the Southampton operations. The most likely event, I feel, is for First to sell the depot and close the operations (like they did in Barnstaple a few years back).

      Go South Coast would snap up the depot & most of the drivers but wouldn't be interested in the Streetlites.

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    6. I would assume Portsmouth,Fareham and Gosport areas were pretty good operating areas for First so can't imagine why they would pass it over to another operator.Even Weymouth area seems reasonable too.Slough and Southampton seem to be the weak areas.If tomorrow in Southampton they withdrew their 2 and 11 hardly anyone would notice as well covered by Bluestar 17 and 18

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    7. The 2 and 11 will never go

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    8. They will if First go

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    9. The way I read it that they intend to sell of the whole of first bus as one company, rather than the individual businesses piece meal.

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    10. I can see no way of anybody being interested in buying the whole of their bus operations in the UK. Why would anyone think that they could turn around such huge losses? More likely that individual areas will be sold, where there is a chance that minor losses can be made good, particularly where there would be a non monopoly situation. Locally, I could see Go South Coast buying the Portsmouth part, to expand to a neighbouring area. They have already taken most of Southampton by stealth measures, and I could see them accelerating their growth in the Southampton rapidly, to make sure that First shut up shop without needing to pay a penny for it. They would not be interested in the depot, as it is already miles too small for them, and they have already taken most of the staff that they are interested in!

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    11. Andi, I wouldn’t be so surprised if GSC acquire the services in Portsmouth.
      WARNING! HIGH SPECULATIVE OPINION BELOW!
      it just makes sense to expand Bluestar services to Fareham and Portsmouth, and even taking one specific route from Stagecoach (yes, service 69).
      About Southampton, I am divided between the selling of the operation to Stagecoach and the withdrawal of all services without selling them.
      If the latter appears to happen, Bluestar will take them over (of course this doesn’t apply to services 2 and 11).
      For those saying that GSC doesn’t want Streetlites, they have them in Swindon, so I think the Streetlites would be repainted with Bluestar colours, in the event that GSC buys Empress Red depot.

      If I was managing Bluestar (I know I have no experience), and seeing this collapse of First operations in Southampton, I would do the following:
      - Not replacing First services 2 and 11
      - Not changing First services 3, 6 and 8
      - Service 7 would merge with Bluestar 16 and making it a circular
      - Services 9 and 13 are quite hard to predict, although I would merge them into one.

      Delete
    12. First group will, ideally wish to dispose of the business as a whole division - there are a number of players in the market who could acquire them, Tower Transit, Comfort Delgro are two examples - there are more. If they split it up, then I would think they would sell it by region as a minimum, otherwise the number of sale and purchase transactions would be huge, therefore, I cannot see individual depots being sold. Sorry to disappoint and spoil the speculation! In fact is other operators tried to make a move on any of the areas up and down the UK where First Bus operates. I think they would see a more aggressive response then First would have done previously to ensure they have a saleable business

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    13. Claudio you would have to merge the 7 in 2 Circular Routes like First used to do with Route 1 in Portsmouth and Southsea

      Delete
    14. @Reece - you could run as a City Red 7 from Southampton to Portswood Bridge (St Denys Road) then left into Manor Farm Road, south on to St Catherine's Road then along Cobden Ave and Mousehole Lane (like a reverse CR7).

      Turn left into Witts Lane and then run as a Bluestar 16 route back to Bitterne and Southampton city centre.

      See the Bluestar network map for roads: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/images.bluestarbus.co.uk/2019-03/Bluestar_Unilink_Southampton%20NETWORK%20MAP_B17_March%202019.pdf

      You'd miss out on two stops on Oak Tree Road but the rest of Townhill Park would be served.

      You'd have two routes:
      7 City - Portwood - Townhill Park - Bitterne - City
      7A City - Bitterne - Townhill Park - Portswood - City

      Run them both every 15 mins (for a combined every 7-8 mins frequency).

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    15. Would you start using that Bus Stop on the Pinefield Road turning circle as currently it isn't that well used

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    16. @Reece - I'd probably use it for Townhill Park - Portswood - City journeys as there doesn't appear to be a suitable location for a stop elsewhere along there.

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    17. In this case, and to conclude my order of ideas, the numbering would be:
      1 - 6 same as today
      7 - Southampton - Calshot
      8 - Southampton - Fawley/Langley
      9 - Southampton - West Totton
      10 - Southampton - Calmore
      11- Southampton - Hedge End Station
      12 - Southampton - Hamble
      13 - Southampton - Harefield - Thornhill - Sholing Butts Rd
      14 - Sholing Butts Rd - Aldermoor (not going to Lordshill anymore)
      15 - Lordshill - Thornhill
      16B - Circular City - Bitterne - Townhill Pk - Portswood - City
      16A - Circular City - Portswood - Townhill Pk - Bitterne - City
      17 & 18 same.

      Regarding the Solent rangers they would still have the same numbers X4/X5.

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    18. Fortunetely the above renumbering will never happen and even better some of the revised routing of services won't either.The thought of living in Butts Road and having to travel via Thornhiil and Harefield to get to Bitterne just doesn't bear thinking about

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    19. Shut it down. I want my redundancy pay.

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    20. Well as I said, I’m very bad doing these predictions, and I know that would never happen. But in the case I am saying, Sholing would have service 14 for a fast service to town, like current service 7.

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    21. I don't agree with Lordshill having even less buses

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    22. Still well done for keeping the 18 as it is as that route has stayed the same since the Hants and Dorset says

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    23. Well the 18 was a Southampton Corporation service not Hants & Dorset.Hants & Dorsets was the 88/88a

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    24. Did they both do the same routes?

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    25. No they didn't.The 18/18a was via Bursledon Road and 88/88a via Thornhill Park Road

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    26. Forgot to mention frequencies, which would be the same as of today except:
      - 13 30 min Monday to Saturday and 60 min Sunday
      - 15 10 min Monday to Saturday and 15 min Sunday
      - 16A/16B 7/8 minutes combined, 15 min each way

      Lordshill has 2 high frequency buses, doesn’t need more buses.

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    27. Well the 4 going through Lordshill is a good thing though

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    28. "Shut it down. I want my redundancy pay" - one of the most selfish comments I have ever read on this blog - you should be ashamed of yourself

      Delete
  23. How I wish the First SWR franchise was still in the hands of Stagecoach as SWT.Even First GWR at times is poor on the Cardiff to Portsmouth service with continual staff shortages

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought South Western trains was a joint venture between First and another group.

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    2. It is, First and MTR, a Hong-Kong company that runs the underground services in HK.

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    3. Should have been a Japanese train
      company as they are renowned for their running perfectly to time.

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  24. Not all the First Buses show up on the bustimes tracker

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  25. Seen in today`s Daily Echo about the drivers vote for strike action at Bluestar-Let`s hope there`s a resolution before things go down that road.

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    Replies
    1. It means we will be seeing loan drivers from other Go Ahead companies

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    2. Not all as good as people post at Bluester it would seem.Lots of unhappy drivers with pay and conditions issues

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    3. I expect you`ll be telling us that conditions and pay are so much better at First.

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    4. Bus drives do have to contend with all the idiotic passengers who decide to press the stop button just as the bus is passing their stop cause they`re too busy staring at their phones to pay attention.

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    5. So 89 vote for strike action.... Of those about 20 would be on day off and 5 would be on holiday. Another 5 will go mysteriously sick, so that may be 59 that would strike out of around 250 drivers. That spells a huge amount of egg on face for the union involved, as with a few managers and trainers and a few drivers imported from neighbouring GSC outfits, no one will even notice! The vast majority will have nothing to do with a strike, and were perfectly happy to take the deal offered.

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    6. I don’t like this kind of strike, where it disrupts everyone and it is not fault that the management doesn’t treat you.
      But my question is: in case of a strike, will you demonstrate on the streets of Southampton, or is it an opportunity to go to the beach, like in Portugal when people go on strike on a Friday?

      Now in a more serious tone: you can strike, you have the right to, but it would be better if you reach an agreement.

      And for those from First, I’d rather having a strike insight than an uncertainty of my future, as my future is at risk.

      (If I offended anyone I apologise, but I have very strong feelings against strikes)

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    7. Wherever you are employed today the risk in many cases is high in the fact today you have a job tomorrow you don't.Businesses go under overnight.No such thing today as a job for life.In most cases strike action will make no difference to the outcome in the end.No one likes being disrupted,but it happens daily to thousans of people even without a strike

      Delete
  26. Regarding the first group sell off etc, the speculators amongst you would probably enjoy this site?
    On there is the thread FirstGroup: Restructuring and Survival. Page 317 is most recent page, obviously most of site has nowt to do with our area but worth a gander now & then the site is.
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/forums/buses-coaches.166/

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  27. Bluestar bus 24hr strike confirmed for June 18th! Meridian news says strike around the region whereas Heart news says staff in Eastleigh, Totton & Poole will be on strike. No mention of So'ton but of course So'ton buses do come from the depots in Eastleigh & Totton don't they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should boost First loadings for the day

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    2. I am sorry the drivers are being selfish. They earn more than First and I don’t really understand why they are making this. I won’t miss this.

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    3. A spokesperson for Bluestar have indicated a reduced service will be operated on that day

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    4. Will we get to see a rare appearance of Andrew wickham doing service work?

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    5. You never know.Might need a bit of route learning though

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    6. I'm sure he would do fine on the 16s

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  28. It's very interesting that everyone knows about a strike. The union has not even held its meeting yet, to decide what industrial action to take! This may just be the few individuals involved, deciding to work to rule or ban doing overtime that day. It may not even get that far, as further negotiations may take place before then. As far as I know, Poole is not involved, for if it were then surely Lymington and Ringwood would have to be involved? As I said elsewhere in the thread, even if it did become a full one day strike, we are only talking about a maximum of 86 people, spread between two depots, so considerably less than one third of the total workforce. 25 of those would be on rest day anyway and a good chance that another few would be on holiday or long term sick. When their Oxford operation went on strike, people were drafted in from far and wide to break it. With the positive attitude of the vast majority of their drivers, most of whom just want to work normally, I predict that this will turn into a damp squib of lots of media hype, but very little to notice. It's just a few hot heads being whipped along by an over important ailing union.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well most people would know as yesterday it was broadcasted on Meridian news

      Delete
    2. Anon @ 23:14 obviously isn't keeping up to date with news. On various sites y'day the RMT & Mick Cash talking about how many of their members have agreed to a strike... Still annoying for us commuters, of which they don't give a toss.

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    3. Quite simply, the news, as so often, is misleading and the union bod has put a spin on it to try to look powerful and important. The reality is that the minority of drivers in Bluestar, are in this awful union, and out of those, most voted for strike action but not all. By far the greatest majority will be working as normal, backed up by supervisors, managers and drivers from within the group. The public will probably not notice that anything unusual is happening, IF any strike takes place at all. The union has a very weak membership within this sector, so much of the reporting is sensationalism to get patronage, doubtless leaked to them by the union who are trying to look big. It will be a one day non event, which may yet turn out to be nothing more than a work to rule by the few. I confirm that no decision to actually strike has yet been taken despite Mr Union trying to spin the threat. The vast majority of drivers do give a toss and recognise that their customers are the ones who provide their income!

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    4. Latest news is that Wednesday will see further negotiations and Go Ahead are willing to ship drivers in from as far away as Sunderland to break the strikers. They are not messing around with this little outburst!

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  29. I appreciate the setup of Go-Ahead, Go South Coast and Bluestar/More etc. would be somewhat confusing to an outsider but really it is poor how so many different journalists seem to have got this story completely wrong. For instance the BBC story here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-48494710 -is headlined "Hampshire and Dorset bus strike to coincide with rail walkout" - Dorset? By the end it's pretty clear they think Bluestar IS Go South Coast -
    "Managing Director Andrew Wickham said: "If the action is confirmed, Bluestar will continue to run services on 18 June although these may be reduced compared to normal operations."
    The firm, owned by the Go-Ahead Group, operates bus services in Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire."

    I'm guessing BBC South's transport correspondent Paul Clifton had no part in that story as I doubt he'd have made that mistake. Very poor journalism - even someone with no knowledge of local buses should be able to understand it after spending a few minutes on the gosouthcoast website.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would imagine hardly anyone employed by the BBC today even knew what a bus looked like.Even in traffic news the bus rarely gets a mention as too delays which is a surprise as public transport wise the bus is the most used.The only time it gets prominance is when on rare occassions there has been an accident.

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  30. Looks like First are pulling out of Southampton.... and the rest of their UK Bus operations https://www.intelligenttransport.com/transport-news/81234/firstgroup-to-sell-firstbus/

    The American firm Coast Capital Management appear to be exerting control of First Group and are also recommending the UK Rail is jettisoned. Shares in First Group are currently up.

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  31. How long has the Southwestern franchise existed? I noted, travelling on the Salisbury Exeter line, how few sets had been fully re-liveried. is that another sign of problems, perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When was the big Waterloo rebuild? August 2016?

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    2. The current franchise started in August 2017, I think. I pass by Bournemouth station daily, and in that time, I have seen ONE fully re-liveried 444. The only others have been some 442s on test. They've just slapped the new logo over the SWT colours on everything else.

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    3. They've made fair progress on the DMUs, but virtually no progress on the 444s and 450s. I think I've only ever seen one 444 in the new livery, despite riding on several 444s and 450s with refurbished interiors.

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  32. Myself I have yet to see in person one relivered train.In fact most of what I see you would still think Stagecoach ran it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wish they still did as the trains ran mostly on time unlike now.

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  33. The change to Bluestar 4 in July is to do with extra evening journeys for the Beggars Fair which takes place in Romsey each year.

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  34. Let's hope they have enough staff to operate extra journeys

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  35. Is Xelabus restructuring their business? They will run less routes to BP College from September. I have looked on one of the route register and they are not supported by subsidies (they are commercially run by Xela).
    Bluestar will run the soon-to-be-withdrawn services from September and it will be interesting how they fit so many new routes on their rotas.
    I am not being negative, I am honestly interested in how the business is going.

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  36. Be iteresting to see if Bluestar can even maintain the service because at present it's cleat they can't even run all they have with the amount of buses missing on major routes most days due to sickness and lack of staff.On some corridors the Bluestar service is shocking on some days

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another thing happening is drivers are having Duties changed and there is nothing they can do about it as well.

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    2. Exactly I meant duties not rotas.
      Well, this may mean few changes to timetabling to other routes to accommodate these new school duties coming to Bluestar.
      But my main focus is Xelabus. Is this just a new positioning of their business or are they facing tough times?
      Sincerely I worry as they have improved in punctuality recently, but they hiked prices twice this year already.

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    3. I have also noticed that the 11.52 ,17 from Shirley to Weston never seems to turn up on an Sunday morning and lots of 18`s seemed to have been missing last Thursday.

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    4. The second director resigned last month, and 11 months ago a fixed and floating debenture was given a factoring company, which would buy its invoices at a discount. Between 30/11 year ends 1916 and 1917 these had increased from £794K to £1180K. 2018 accounts are due by 31/8.You can draw, what conclusion you wish.

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    5. I'm sorry, cold head, but you've lost me on this one. "Second director" of which company, please?

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    6. He's referring to Xelabus - see Companies House for more information: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07338043/officers

      Delete
    7. I confess I struggle to understand cold head’s comment.
      Thanks for the info, Andy. I hope xelabus can solve their problems rather soon than later.

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    8. Thank you, Andi. Much clearer now!

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  37. On most days you will find trips missing on Bluestar 18 including Sundays.Not the shining star across Southampton it professes to be.Many times recently I have waited for an 18 in Bargate Street only to be told by a driver that the one on the stand won't be running due to no driver available.sometimes you can wait upto 40 minutes for a service that's suppose to be every 7/8 minutes and that's at off peak between 1000 and 1400

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  38. I got today the 3 From Eastleigh to Hedge End.
    The driver was instructed to depart 5 minutes late from Eastleigh because they can’t wait time at Fair Oak Square. I think they should delay the departure until they serve Boorley Park. It is very strange 6 minutes waiting at Fair Oak (when Stagecoach and Xela opposed to it) so it is the solution. I think Bluestar (and Xela X15) will start serving the estate before the end of July.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you have a chat with the driver as well mate?

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    2. Of course not, I just heard what he was saying to two elderly women on the bus. He departed at 1:31pm from Bus station instead of 1:25pm

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  39. 16 mins running time from Eastleigh to Fair Oak (Bluestar 3) did seem a little generous - especially given Xelabus only allow 8 mins on the X15 and X17.

    When I travelled on the B*3 recently the driver waited at the Stoke Wood Surgery stop for around 5 mins.

    Makes sense for the 3 to either depart Eastleigh late or wait at that stop and not block Fair Oak Square for a few minutes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am just pointing out what the driver has done which it is sensible. I know all those waiting times will be absorbed after the Boorley Park officially opens. (And who knows Manor Farm too, as I received a pledge from LD councillors with their intention of service 3 to serve the estate off Manor Farm).

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  40. The timetable has allowed for the fact that sometime later this year the bus will serve the new Boorley Park development.Once this happens the 6 minutes wait will not happen at Fair Oak.The same going the other way the wait at Botley School towards Eastleigh will disappear.Most Xelabus services have extremely tight running times between points.The times on some sections are so tight the driver bearely has time to stop and pick up or drop off

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’d rather having service X9/X10 to run every 90 minutes to allow extra time to run the service, than rushing through it. However it has slightly improved.

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    2. Similar sort of thing happens on the CityRed 7 even at Nighttime between City Centre and the Mitre the running times are so tight the driver is guarenteed to get there a minute or 2 late

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  41. https://bustimes.org/vehicles#13/50.9165/-1.3549
    as an example to see where First buses are as they only seem to show up as "scheduled" on google maps, & never how far away they are. Thing with this site though is that 16's or 18's are never displayed? Zoom in & out & those numbers in the link will change.

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