Saturday, 31 December 2011

Virtually no buses on New Year's Day / Only Velvet running

EDIT: The below post refers to New Year's Day 2012. For 2014, please click here.

As you prepare to see in the new year, bear in mind that virtually no buses are running in our region tomorrow.

The only buses running on New Year's Day are on Velvet routes A and C1. They will be running to a Sunday timetable with buses run by Velvet themselves, rather than First and Xelabus who normally run the Sunday service on those routes.

No other services will be running at all except for the free CityLink shuttle between Central Station and the Isle of Wight ferry terminal. Some trains will be running, so if you're near a station, you won't be entirely isolated.

Enjoy this evening and have a very happy new year!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Your New Year's Eve buses

If you need to use the bus tomorrow, New Year's Eve, then this is how they will be running. There are early finishes on some routes, Sunday service on others, while Bluestar's night buses will be running. Here's the full rundown:

Bluestar: Full Saturday service including night buses.

First: Weekday service on route 21. Saturday service on routes 5, 8, 11, 26, 72 and 80. Special timetable on routes 1/1A, 3, 8A, 9/9A, 10/10A and 12. Sunday service on routes 4, 7, 16 and 17/17A. All services finishing early at around 2000.

Brijan, Stagecoach, Velvet, W&D: Normal full Saturday service.

Unilink: Saturday service finishing early at about 2100.

Click on the links for special timetables and times of last buses on those routes that are finishing early.

Velvet have pointed out that you can see in the new year on one of their buses by catching the last service on route A from Eastleigh at 2340 towards Oaklands. It will be somewhere in Hedge End at the stroke of midnight.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bus service summary for 28th-30th December

Now the bank holidays are almost over and done with, tomorrow sees a semblance of normal service return until the end of the week. There are several different service levels on offer though, depending on the route you need to use. If you want reassurance that your route is running, try the journey planner at Traveline - I've tested it and it has been updated with the correct timetables for each day.

Here's a summary of what is running from Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th December inclusive:

Bluestar: Saturday service except for routes 5, 6, 8, H1, H2, H3, T1 and T2, which will have a weekday service. Special timetable on route 9 (Saturday service with some services extended to/from Calshot - contact Bluestar for full details). Night buses will run on Friday night only.

Brijan: Normal weekday service.

First: Weekday service on routes B1, B2, B3 and 21. Saturday service on routes 5, 8, 11, 26, 72 and 80. Special timetable on routes 1, 1A, 3, 8A, 9/9A, 10/10A and 12. Sunday service on routes 4, 7, 16 and 17/17A.

Stagecoach: Saturday service except for route 46, which will have a weekday service.

Unilink: Saturday service except for route U9, which will have a weekday service.

Velvet: Normal weekday service.

W&D: Saturday service except for routes X1, X2, 112, 118 and 119, which will have a weekday service.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Sunday service on bank holiday Tuesday 27th December

Because Christmas Day was on a Sunday this year, tomorrow (Tuesday 27th December) is a bank holiday, so that most people still get two days off work.

If you need to get about, there's a Sunday service on all bus operators in our region. Sadly this means no service for Marchwood, Colden Common, Bishops Waltham and others. People stuck in those places can get going again on Wednesday.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Boxing Day bus summary

EDIT: The below post was originally published for Boxing Day 2011. For buses running on Boxing Day 2013, click here.

So, Mad Lizzie's done her speech and now it's getting dark, thoughts turn to tomorrow, Boxing Day.

Most bus routes won't be running, but Bluestar will be running a skeleton service on routes 1, 2, 4, 9, 12 and 18. The full special timetable can be found here.

If you're not lucky enough to live on one of those routes, you'll have to wait a bit longer before hitting the sales.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

No buses on Christmas Day

No buses will be running in our region tomorrow.

Despite that, Happy Christmas!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Eve bus summary / First fares to rise

First have announced a fares hike for January. Although the Southampton FirstDay is staying at £4, most other fares will go up on Monday 2nd January.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the first day of bus services not running to their normal timetables, so here's a quick summary of which buses are running when.

Bluestar, Brijan, Stagecoach, W&D: Full Saturday service (but no night buses).
First: Saturday service finishing early at about 2000.
Unilink: Saturday service finishing early at about 2100.
Velvet: Saturday service finishing early at about 2000.

The full timetables can be found on the operators' websites via the links in the red panel on the right. A full list of routes detailing where they go and who operates them is at the very bottom of this page.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Ticket tricks: So'ton £4.50, Eastleigh £4.70 - All major operators all day

Prices updated 14th May 2014

There's a way to travel around Southampton on several operators' buses for less than the price of a Solent Travelcard (the official all-operator ticket at £8 a day). It's by using PlusBus. PlusBus is only available in conjunction with train tickets either to or from Central Station or Southampton Airport Parkway and costs £2.30 in addition to the rail ticket (Railcard discounts are also available on the PlusBus ticket). Even if you aren't using the train, it's worth knowing about, because the single train fare between Eastleigh and Southampton Airport Parkway is just £2.20. That's the lowest priced train ticket that is eligible for PlusBus in our region.

So for a total of £4.50 you can ride around on all buses (except for Brijan Tours and Wheelers routes) within the city boundary all day - much cheaper than two single-operator tickets or the Solent Travelcard. The only hitch is that to buy the ticket, you need to purchase it either from a staffed train station or in advance online (for example on South West Trains' website) and then collect it from the FastTicket machines at Central, Airport Parkway, Swaythling, St Denys, Bitterne, Woolston or Sholing stations.

Similarly for £4.70, you can have unlimited travel for the day across Eastleigh and Chandlers Ford on all operators except for Brijan Tours, Wheelers and Xelabus - click for details of the exact zone and boundary points. So if you need to use a Bluestar and a Velvet bus, this will almost certainly be cheaper than buying separate tickets. You'll need to buy a single train ticket from Southampton Airport Parkway to Eastleigh for £2.20 and the add-on Eastleigh and Chandlers Ford PlusBus ticket for £2.50. This can also be done in advance online and then collected in advance from any FastTicket machine, including the ones at Eastleigh and Chandlers Ford rail stations.

It's a ridiculous system where people are driven to buying superfluous train tickets in order to get a cheaper bus fare, but that's the system we have.

Friday, 9 December 2011

1 woes / Departure boards / Diversions

It's not often that a bus operator will admit that they are having big problems. Bluestar have done just that with a post on their website admitting that they are struggling to provide a reliable service on their flagship route 1. Once such a thing may have been seen as a sign of weakness, but nowadays it appears to be a virtue to recognise where things are going wrong. Better for Bluestar to recognise that there's a problem and confirm that they are looking into solutions than to deny that anything's wrong in the first place. I'd expect them to release a new timetable for that route in the next few weeks.

You can view a live departure board for any bus stop in the UK for free from your computer or mobile. Excluding mobile data charges obviously. NextBuses uses Traveline's timetable database to give a list of departures for your chosen stop, which you can search for by name (that's the bus stop names as used on Google Maps, rather than the name that might actually appear on the stop), postcode, place name or stop code (which is on some bus stop flag signs and on the pdf timetables on Traveline's website). Most of the data is just from the timetable rather than live, but it is still useful if you're not sure when your bus is scheduled to depart. Here's an example of this evening's departures from the Fair Oak Square westbound stop:

First 3, 21 and Unilink U6 will be diverted due to roadworks in Bevois Valley on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th December. The only stop they won't be able to serve as normal is shown here:
The nearest alternative stop for the 3 and U6 are just up Onslow Road. The 21 should still be able to get into the RSH Hospital grounds.

There are Christmas carols in Fair Oak Square on Monday evening between 1700 and 2100, which means that Bluestar 2, Brijan 8 and Stagecoach 69 won't be able to use the Square. Bluestar 2 will be stopping by the church on Winchester Road during those hours. Brijan and Stagecoach haven't said what they're going to do.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mapping the changes

First of all, thanks to Phil from Velvet, who has confirmed that they will be running routes A and C1 to a Sunday timetable on New Year's Day. They'll be the only bus routes operating that day (apart from Bluestar's free Citylink between Central Station and the Isle of Wight ferry terminal).

The latest changes have taken effect to some of First's routes. Worst hit is the 5, which has been cut back to Aldermoor and reduced in frequency to just hourly Mon-Sat daytimes. The shrivelled up rump of First 5 now looks like this:
First haven't yet updated the network map on their website, so I've doctored a corner of it for you:
As you can see, Bakers Drove is now a bus-free zone. The Eastern side of Lorsdhill North how has to make do with one bus an hour on route 21, where it used to have a total of three buses an hour to town on weekday daytimes. The 21 takes a lot longer to get to town than the 5 did, due to its circuitous route. This deterioration in service for Lordshill North has not gone unnoticed by posters to First's Facebook page.

Southampton City Council's bus map (also showing Bluestar, Unilink and Stagecoach routes) is now hideously out of date for that corner of the city, so I've updated that too:

There is some good news: First 4 has been extended from Totton Asda to Totton College. Here's an updated (again by me) extract of Hampshire County Council's Totton map showing where it goes:

Don't forget also that some journeys on route 80 are now numbered 80A and run a slightly different way between Locks Heath and Titchfield:

Just in case the dodgy graphics hadn't given it away, all of the above maps have been edited by myself because First, Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council can't be bothered to keep theirs up to date. I'm sure they still keep the copyright though hopefully they won't mind me making them relevant and semi fit for purpose again.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Sunday service, really? / First for xmas confusion

All of our region's bus operators have now advised how their services will be running over Christmas and New Year. A summary is in the green panel on the right. There are a couple of surprises however.

On New Year's Day most operators will not be running, but Velvet say they will be running a Sunday service. Are they sure? The A and C1 are run by other companies on Sundays and First, who run the A, say they won't be running on 1st Jan. Xelabus run the Sunday C1, but unless the council are subsidising them on that day, I can't see them running either. Will Velvet be running the services themselves to the Sunday timetable? Unless Phil can confirm otherwise, I think it's safer to assume there will be no buses at all on that day.

The most bizarre feature of the festive season is First's plans for Wednesday 28th to Saturday 31st December. Rather than run a simple (or at worst modified/enhanced) Saturday service like the other operators, First have opted for a ludicrous mish-mash of weekday, Saturday and Sunday services to run on all four of those consecutive days, plus some routes will have a special timetable. If that isn't a recipe for confusion, I don't know what is. Of the routes that will be running to a special timetable on those days, their daytime frequencies will be as follows:

1/1A: Every 15 mins combined (30 mins on each route).
3: Every 15 mins.
8A: Every 30 mins.
9/9A: Every 30 mins.
10/10A: Every 12 mins combined (every 24 mins on each route).
12: Every 30 mins.

Apart from the 1A, each of those routes will be running less often than their normal Saturday service. Also notable are the routes that will have a Sunday service for five days in a row starting on the Bank Holiday Tuesday: 4, 7, 16 and 17/17A. Why have they decided to run particularly the 7 and 16 to a daytime frequency of just once an hour on those days? Bluestar will surely be rubbing their hands with glee as their 2 (running every 20 mins) covers most of the 7's route. No such luck for passengers on route 16, unless they live near a train station.

An early prediction for 2012: First 7 will be cut further and maybe even withdrawn.