Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Route branding / First fury / Portswood

Xelabus launch two new routes serving the new Sainsbury's store in Portswood on Wednesday 14th March. The X13 will run to Chartwell Green in one direction and Northlands Road (off The Avenue) in the other. We're not sure where the X14 will go, but we'll let you know when we do.

Wilts & Dorset X7 could be getting a timetable change on Sunday 18th March. We'll keep an eye out for confirmation.

First doesn't enjoy the best reputation amongst bus companies, neither locally nor nationally. Managers of its Greater Manchester network have been hauled before the North West traffic commissioner to explain why around a quarter of their buses don't turn up on time. Full story here. How do you rate their services in Southampton? Can they be relied on down here?

On a lighter note, Bluestar's sister company Go North East, based in Newcastle, is famous for branding its individual routes with innovative names and cartoon pictures. One which recently grabbed national attention was the revamping of South Shields' route 50 to the "Whey Aye Five 0". That got me thinking about which routes in and around Southampton could do with a distinctive name. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  • Titchfield Thunderbolt (First 80)
  • March(wood) Hare (Bluestar 8)
  • QE2 (Complete with ship pictures. Could be used on Bluestar 2 but might better suit the 9 as it serves the Waterside)
  • Chariot (Bluestar 1, playing on Winchester's Roman origins)
  • Victoria Line (First 16)
  • Hythe Hoop-La (Bluestar H1/H2)
  • Calshot Cruiser (Bluestar H3)
  • The Pony (Bluestar 6)
  • Spitfire (First 1 as the Spitfire was made in Woolston; or Velvet A for the airport)
  • Triangle (First 3)
  • The Causeway (First 4)
  • Bell (First 5)

Leave a comment and let us know what you can come up with!


  1. Bluestar by far the most unreliable operator in South Hampshire, the 18 regularly turns up 3 at a time then 20-30 minute gaps. The 1 requires supersonic speed and not picking anyone up to achieve evening running times. A friend regularly commutes on the 2 where hourly gaps in the afternoon are fairly frequent.

    Go South Coast subsidiaries have had at least one public inquiry a year based on either maintenance or reliability but tend to stay under the press radar, perhaps their spin machine is better? Bluestar = two reliability PI's in recent years, W+D one maintenance PI where O licence was restricted and one recent reliability PI. By far the worst record of local companies.

    First had a rocky patch a few years ago in Southampton but appear to have done a lot to sort their timetables out.

  2. I think all of the South Hampshire operators have had their run ins with the authorities at some point. First Hampshire had a spate with their Portsmouth services and a telling off back in December 2006.

    Coming onto the more imaginative bit though:

    CeaserStar1 (again playing on the Roman angle) or The King of Wessex (Winchester being the capital of Wessex)
    The CityFlyer (U1 connecting city to airport - might have to make the route more direct though)
    The Non-Express (any Xelabus service with an X prefix)
    The Half-Way House (any BS6, BS9 or BS10 terminating at Totton)

  3. All bus services should be capable of starting their journey on time and given reasonable traffic conditions then running on time. There is no value (I think) in increasing running times when this will often mean 'long waits' at stops to wait time - First are very prone to this and is probably more irritating than a late bus
    BS 18 by definition and with no control will always bunch since 1 late bus picks up 2 bus loads and bus 2 then catches up. Also cars etc can bypass jams but the bus has to sit in them
    Councils also do NO favours for reliability by failing to provide more bus lanes. As an example BS1 from the Winchester Bus Station to Natwest Bank travels on a 2 lane one way system which is always congested. If the inside lane was bus (and taxi) only to the top of the hill bus times would be shortened, car queues lengthened but almost nil impact on travel time


    MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - First 78C as it's the only bus (I know of) that links Tesco Bursledon/Harvester, Providence Hill to Bitterne! (1 a day each way schooldays only)

    SPORTING CHANCE - First 8A - links The Rose Bowl & St. Mary's Stadium

    THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY - Your choice of First 26 (or 8A eves), Bluestar 3, Velvet A & Brijan 8 connecting Botley & Hedge End

  5. I think anonymous that the problem with building or introducing bus lanes will be that the locals will object very heavily to it and use the reasoning of increasing non-bus congestion.

    There is a trial about to be undertaken in Fareham where they are changing some lanes to bus lanes in conjunction with the new BRT. This is already being rubbished by the local media contributors as being stupid before anything has been done.

    Personally I think that Southampton might have been a better place to look at a BRT style facility in the first place, or even a series of bus gates like the one at Whiteley. Ironically they are planning bus gates as part of the bus priorities in Fareham as well!