Saturday, 31 March 2012

New First network: route 7 analysed

New 7 will run the exact same route as old 3 between town and Townhill Park. All there is to compare are the old and new timetables:
The new Mon-Sat evening frequency is half-hourly before 2100 and hourly after. This improvement seems to be to maintain a decent frequency to Portswood (new 5/old 7 is having all its evening journeys cut) and the benefit to Townhill Park is coincidental. The Saturday daytime frequency is back up to 10 mins, in line with weekdays. The last bus will run later each night, including almost 90 minutes later than currently on Sundays. The only negative is a later first bus on Saturdays, but that is only by 8 minutes.

A definite thumbs up for new 7.

These changes happen on Sunday 29th April and the full new timetables can be found here.

Next: New 8 and 8A...

First 72/80 temporary weekend timetables as of tomorrow

Just a quick reminder that as of tomorrow, First 72 gets a temporary timetable on Sundays and the 80/80A gets one for Saturdays and Sundays.

Both will be withdrawn again on Sunday 22nd April, when they are replaced by new routes 4/4A/X4.

Friday, 30 March 2012

New First network: route 6 analysed

New 6 will follow exactly the same route as old 16, running from town to Hamble. No change to the route at all, just to the timetable. Here's how they compare:
It's all good here. No cut in frequency, just earlier first buses Mon-Sat and later last buses Thurs-Sun. The asterisks indicate when there is a different level of service on different days - the last two weekday journeys only run on Thursday and Friday evenings.

Some peak hour journeys will run via Central Bridge rather than Chapel College. Otherwise all buses will run via Ocean Village as now.

The existing old 16X school journeys become new 6A via Weston Shore and Jurds Lake Way (providing its only bus of the day after the withdrawal of old 1A).

Next, new route 7...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

New First network: route 5 analysed

STOP PRESS: The new First network map, effective 29th April, has been released. See it here.

New 5 will run from Bassett Green, replacing old 7, through town and then on to Sholing as per old 12 via a forgotten bit of old 8A.

There are a couple of key route changes though. To save time, the terminus loop at Burgess Road expands, so that new 5 will run in a one-way circle from Swaythling McDonalds via Burgess Road, Violet Road, Honeysuckle Road, Daisy Road, Lobelia Road, Bassett Green Road, Stoneham Lane and High Road back to McDonalds and on into town via the old 7 route. Until, that is, it gets to Stag Gates. Where old 7 runs via The Avenue and London Road, new 5 will get to the Cenotaph via Banister Road, Carlton Road and Bedford Place, replacing old 5. First's publicity portrays new 5 as the first bus service to serve Banister Road, but they were beaten to it by Xelabus X13, which launched on 14th March.

So let's first compare new 5 and old 7 between Bassett Green and town:
There's a lot of red here. The only good thing for people on this route is an earlier first bus on Saturdays. The evening service is cut completely, after Sunday evenings were cut last year. The weekday daytime frequency is cut from 3 to 2 buses an hour. And the first bus of the day is later Sun-Fri. This route has become First's last stand in Unilink territory in the last few years, but the cutting of evening services will make First less attractive to regular travellers in Swaythling and Bassett Green. I think we could see First retreat from this route completely before too long. The section through Portswood and Swaythling has direct competition from Bluestar 2 and Unilink U6 and Bassett Green is also served by Unilink U2, all of which have evening services, even on Sundays. I think those buses will be getting gradually busier.

Too depressing. Let's cheers ourselves up by seeing how new 5 and old 5 compare down Bedford Place (which is also partially served by Velvet S2):
A big improvement for Bedford Place. The Mon-Sat daytime frequency is doubled and Sunday buses are introduced. Earlier first and later last buses are the icing on the cake, although there are still no evening buses, but Bedford Place isn't exactly miles from town or alternative routes.

Beyond town, new 5 proceeds via Chapel Road and Albert Road North to Itchen Bridge. This bit replaces old 8A and represents a cut in service, but it's only City College and a few businesses on that part of the route and town is easily walkable.

Over the bridge, new 5 follows the old 12 route to Sholing, using the same terminus loop in the same direction. Here's how the two timetables measure up:

The Mon-Sat daytime frequency is down from 3 to 2 buses an hour, but the last bus runs later. Still no Sunday buses, but old 11/new 9 which runs the other way around the Sholing loop does offer an evening/Sunday service via Bitterne. New 1, 2, 2A, 3 and 6 will serve Woolston in the evenings and on Sundays.

These changes take place on Sunday 29th April. Full timetables here.

Next: A closer look at new 6...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

New First network: routes 4, 4A and X4 analysed

New 4, 4A and X4 will replace old 72, 80 and 80A from Southampton to Gosport and Fareham as well as old 57 and X57, which currently run between Warsash, Fareham and Portsmouth. First, let's look at what the routes will actually be:

4 Southampton-Lowford-Warsash-Locks Heath-Stubbington-Gosport
This is exactly the same as old 72 minus the Sunday extension to Central Station.

4A Southampton-Lowford-Warsash-Locks Heath-Fareham
This is the same as old 72 as far as Locks Heath, then as old 80A to Titchfield Common, then old 57 to Fareham.

X4 Southampton-Lowford-Locks Heath-Fareham-Portsmouth
This is the same as old 80 to Fareham minus the section between Central Station and Southampton city centre, than it continues to our dear neighbours in Portsmouth.

As far as Swanwick, all three routes go the same way. I should add that none of them will serve Wrights Hill, leaving it to new 5 and 6. After the short split while the new 4 and 4A go via Warsash, they all meet up again at Locks Heath Centre. Here's how the timetables compare on that combined stretch:
There's an extra bus an hour Mon-Sat daytimes and Sunday daytimes get an easier-to-remember two buses an hour.

Before they get to Locks Heath, new 4 and 4A will run through Warsash:
The daytime frequency is doubled every day. The only negative is that the last Sunday bus back to Warsash will be 7 minutes earlier than it is now.

After Locks Heath, the new 4 will run to Gosport, as per old 72:
The big gain here is on Sundays, where the frequency is doubled to hourly.

For a few months, old 80A has been serving the Titchfield Common end of Hunts Pond Road, offering a bus service to a new housing estate. Here's how that section fares with the changes:
No negatives here at all. Just earlier first and later last buses, now making it viable to commute to Southampton by bus for a 9-5 job. Still no Sunday service though, but Sunday buses are just a short walk away.

The old 80 section in Titchfield Common via Abshot Road sees a doubling of its Mon-Sat daytime frequency with new X4.

The rest of combined old 80/80A from Titchfield Common into Fareham keeps its half-hourly frequency with new X4 and gains the direct onward link to Portsmouth.

Southampton to Fareham on the combined new 4A/X4 will give three buses an hour where there used to be two. In most cases, the train will still be quicker however, and the Fareham Plusbus ticket is valid on all First and Stagecoach buses in the area, including the new First Eclipse services between Fareham and Gosport. If you do decide to get the bus all the way to Fareham or maybe even Portsmouth, the FirstDay Hampshire ticket is great value at £5.60. If you need to use another company's services to connect with First, then the Solent Travelcard at £7 is also valid.

The changes to these routes happen on Sunday 22nd April - that's a week before the rest of Southampton's changes, in order to coincide with other changes taking place in the Fareham area. Full new timetables here.

Next: First new 5...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New First network: route 3 analysed

New 3 will replace old 10/10A all the way from Lordshill to Thornhill, extending to Harefield on Mon-Sat evenings.

All buses will run via Lordshill Way, replacing old 10A and 17A. Aldermoor Road, haunt of old 10, is picked up by new 2A, covered yesterday. Lordshill Way loses its direct link to Millbrook (and one bus an hour weekday daytimes) but gains a consistently quicker journey to Shirley and town. It will also still be served by new S1, replacing old 21. Here’s how the old 10/10A and new 3 measure up between Lordshill and town:
There's a drop in the Sunday daytime frequency and the last bus of the day will be about 20 minutes earlier than at present. First buses of the day Mon-Sat will be earlier though.

Over in Sholing, the old 10A variation via North East Road is withdrawn due to some kind of squabble between First and the city council about road layouts. There is no replacement for North East Road. All buses will therefore run via Kathleen Road, which sees a doubling in frequency:

Here’s how the combined old 10/10A compare to new 3 between Thornhill and town:
The Sunday daytime frequency is cut to half-hourly, which still isn't bad. The first bus on a Sunday will be more than 2 hours later than now however. 

Hourly Mon-Sat evening buses, currently numbered old 10B, will continue to extend beyond Thornhill to Harefield, but will just be numbered new 3.

Don't forget, this doesn't happen until Sunday 29th April. New timetables here.

In other news, it is with sadness that we see the suspension of the Hampshire Bus Changes blog. It's been covering the rest of Hampshire, providing an excellent guide to those who want to know what's happening beyond the reach of this Southampton-centric blog. We hope it returns eventually and wish Darren, its creator, all the best. This page won't be expanding its reach to fill the gap, as we'd rather stay fully focused on the area we really know well, which is Southampton and its immediate surroundings. If anyone sets up a replacement, do let us know and we'll happily link to it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

New First network: routes 2, 2A and X2 analysed

The old 17/17A are replaced by new 2/2A with a couple of changes. As Adanac Park, currently served by old 17, will be served by new 1, new 2 will run from Lordshill via Rownhams Road to Maybush Corner, where it will join new 2A to cover more of Millbrook than old 17 did. New 2A itself will run from Lordshill via Aldermoor Road, replacing old 10. Old 17A goes via Lords Hill Way, which will be covered by new 3. From Aldermoor, new 2A is the same as old 17A all the way into town.

First of all, let's compare old 10 and new 2A along Aldermoor Road:
Aldermoor Road is losing all of its evening buses, with nothing running there after 2000. The Sunday frequency is improved from every 40 minutes to an easier-to-remember half-hourly. Buses will start earlier each morning, but the journey time to town via Millbrook is 12 minutes slower than the old 10 route via Shirley Warren.

Next, how does the new 2A measure up against old 17A between Aldermoor and town?:
Here too, evening buses are cut - the evening service will run only on new 2, not serving the General Hospital or Aldermoor. The current Mon-Sat evening frequency on old 17A is half-hourly before 2100 and hourly after that. On the plus side, the Sunday daytime frequency goes up to half-hourly instead of the current 40 minutes.

New 2 and 2A join forces at Maybush Corner for the run around Millbrook and then to Shirley and town. Combined, they will run every 10 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes, which is less than now (old 17/17A run 8 buses an hour weekday daytimes), but First have a new weapon to wield against Bluestar 18: the new X2.

New X2 will run round Millbrook anti-clockwise from Wimpson Lane, round Windermere Avenue and Kendal Avenue, back to Wimpson Lane, then down to Millbrook Roundabout and along Millbrook Road to Central Station and town. Journey time will be around 20 minutes, compared to 25-30 mins on the new 2/2A or Bluestar 18. New X2 will run at least every 10 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes and hourly on Sundays, albeit with no evening service. Millbrook will have a First bus to town about every 5 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes, compared to every 7/8 mins on Bluestar 18. This could get very interesting.

So here is how the 2/2A/X2 combo will compare to the current 17/17A from Millbrook:
A huge improvement. The only negative being the last bus from town on Mon-Sats will leave 3 minutes earlier than it currently does.

New X2 terminates in town, but 2 and 2A split and continue via Woolston to East of the Itchen.

New 2 will run from town to Townhill Park via Merry Oak, as per old 8. Here's how the timetables compare:
The Sunday daytime frequency is doubled. Last buses are later every day, but the first bus is also later Mon-Sats.

New 2A will run from Woolston via Peartree Avenue to Bitterne as per old 8A, before continuing to Hightown as per old 9. How will things change for Peartree?:
Sunday evening buses are back in Peartree! The last bus on Mon-Sat evenings is however 49 minutes earlier than it is now.

Old 9A serves Chessel Avenue in the daytimes and that part of the route is being withdrawn. Old 9/9A will be replaced between Bitterne and Hightown via Harefield by new 2A. Here's how they compare:
The journey will take 2 minutes longer on new 2A via Woolston than on old 9 via Northam. The Sunday timetable is better overall, but all Sunday buses will terminate at Fairfax Court in Thornhill (marked F above), leaving Hightown to Bluestar. Mon-Sat evening journeys will also terminate at Fairfax as before, with the last bus to Hightown about half an hour earlier than now.

This all takes effect on Sunday 29th April. All of First's new timetables are here. They've been very good at answering passengers' questions regarding the new routes on their Facebook page.

Next: New 3...

New First network: Route 1 analysed

The new First 1 will run from Weston into town as per the old 1 and then on to Lordshill as per old 8, then on to Adanac Park as per old 17.

It'll run every 10 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes between Weston and Lordshill, with a bus extending to Adanac Park every 20 mins. On Sunday daytimes it will run half-hourly between Weston and Lordshill only. The evening service will only run between the city centre and Weston and will be every hour (half-hourly Mon-Sats before 2100).

The old 1A route variation via Jurds Lake Way is withdrawn. All buses will run via Weston Grove Road and Archery Road, which will see an increase in frequency:
Here's a summary of the timetable differences between town and Weston:
The main point being that the Saturday daytime frequency is up from 5 to 6 buses an hour.

Between town and Lordshill, new 1 replaces old 8, running to exactly the same route. Here's how they measure up when the timetables are compared:
The Saturday daytime 10 minute frequency will last for longer than it currently does. Overall, this is a big improvement. The only downside is a later first bus and earlier last bus on Saturdays.

New 1 also takes over the serving of Adanac Park from old 17. Adanac therefore loses its direct link to Millbrook, but Shirley and the city centre can still be reached directly if you don't mind the bus going through Lordshill first. As Adanac Park is mainly offices, I've analysed the timetables with office workers in mind:
There is an overall cut in service on weekdays, but a 20 minute frequency is still not bad. To make up for that though, Adanac Park gets a Saturday service for the first time.

No sign of any late night services to Weston being extended to Hamble after the change.

Don't forget, these changes do not take effect until Sunday 29th April. All the new timetables can be found here.

Stay tuned to see what new route 2 means for you!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New First network: Full route descriptions & timetables released

First have released full details, including timetables, of their new Southampton network - replacing all of their existing routes as of 29th April.

Here you can find a summary and links to the pdf timetables, which include a road-by-road description of each new route.

There are too many changes for me to go into any detail now (about to head off to catch a flight!), but do take a look and see how you will be affected.

Over the next few days we'll publish analysis galore!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

First family Easter offer / Marchwood diversion

First have a special offer over Easter. Their FirstDay Hampshire Family ticket is being reduced from its usual price of £13 to £10 between 31st March and 15th April inclusive. It's valid for up to 5 people (with a maximum of two adults) all day on all First bus services in Hampshire.

Bluestar 8 is being diverted in Marchwood this Friday and next Monday and Tuesday due to the resurfacing of Trotts Lane. Only journeys towards Southampton are affected. Full details here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Diversions: Mudeford, New Milton, University, Highfield

A few more diversions to advise you of:

W&D X1/X2 are diverted in Mudeford and are operating to a temporary timetable from today for about 10 days. Details here.

W&D 119 has an amended route through New Milton starting today. Details here. Hampshire County Council can be blamed for the fact that no-one apparently knew about this until the last minute.

Unilink U1 is diverted between Portswood and the University tomorrow evening from 1830 until close of service due to BT wanting to dig up Shaftesbury Avenue.

Unilink U2 will be diverted near Highfield Campus on weekday evenings after 1900 from Friday 23rd March for about a week. Details here.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Havelock Road closed: Diversion to many routes in town

Buses are being diverted near Central Station until next Monday morning. This map illustrates the stops that are out of use and which replacement stops to go to for Bluestar 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 18, W&D X7 and First 4, 8, 10/10A, 17/17A and 21:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Portswood: Xelabus X13 & X14 launch

Xelabus X13 and X14 launched today, two new weekday-only circular routes designed to coincide with the opening of the new Sainsbury's on the site of Citybus/First's old depot in Portswood. The timetable is here. Here are the route maps:

Fully zoomable versions can be viewed on the Traveline website: X13, X14. Unlike most Xelabus services, you do need to pay to use these routes, but they herald the return of buses to some areas that have been unserved for many years: Hampton Park, Belmont Road and Northlands Road for example.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Diversions: Bevois Valley & West Totton / Portswood ghost routes?

A couple of diversions to tell you about.

Onslow Road in Bevois Valley is closed until 6 tomorrow morning, causing diversions to Unilink U6 and First 3. The U6 will divert via The Avenue and Lodge Road. First haven't said what the 3 will be doing but we expect it to use the same diversion.

Michigan Way in West Totton is closed for three weeks, meaning diversions for Bluestar 11. Full details here.

Xelabus are expected to be launching two new routes serving the new Sainsbury's in Portswood this week. However, no timetables have emerged for the X13 and X14 and only sketchy route info has been leaked. We're wondering if these routes have been postponed or maybe shelved altogether. We'll let you know if there's any sign of them actually launching.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Go Ahead and put your fares up / Totton to be teeming with 10s

Bluestar and Wilts & Dorset are putting their fares up again as of 18th March. Southampton Dayrider is up to £3.40. Eastleigh Dayrider is up to £3.60. Solent Dayrider is unchanged at £6.50, while the Explorer is up to £8 making it the same price on Bluestar and W&D. Full details of Bluestar's other ticket prices (excluding of course singles and returns) here. Over at W&D, Southampton to Salisbury on the X7 rises to £5.50 single/£7.40 return and Lymington to Bournemouth on the X1/X2 goes up to £5.50 single/£7.60 return. Their Explorer stays at £8.

More details have emerged about First's new Southampton network, which starts on 29th April. These are the additional routes that have been registered:

2 Lordshill-Thornhill/Townhill Park
X2 City Centre-Millbrook (fast via Freemantle, not Shirley)
10 City Centre-Totton (via Upper Shirley)

The X2 is a clear and innovative attack on Bluestar 18, offering new direct journeys from Millbrook into town. This suggests that the 2 will run to something like the current 17/17A route between town and Lordshill. The 10 looks just like the current 4, but could cause confusion in that Totton already has a 10, operated by Bluestar. It's also not clear if it will run to Totton College or terminate at Asda.

We'll let you know as soon as we hear about the exact routes to be taken and of course the timetables.

Friday, 2 March 2012

New First network: Destinations revealed!

The first batch of new First routes from 29th April are as follows:

1 Weston-Lordshill/Nursling
3 Lordshill-Thornhill
4/X4 City Centre-Locks Heath-Gosport/Fareham/Portsmouth (starts a week earlier on 22nd April)
5 Bassett Green-Sholing
6 City Centre-Hamble
7 City Centre-Townhill Park
8 General Hospital-Hedge End/Botley
9 City Centre-Sholing
S1 RSH Hospital-Lordshill North

The big theme is that cross-city routes are back in fashion, after several years of snapping them in two, forcing people to change buses to cross the city. The S1 looks like a simple renumbering of the 21, which we had thought was exempt from the shake up. We don't have any more details yet, so the exact routes and frequencies are not known and we assume more new routes are to be announced. No mention yet of Totton: could First be on the retreat just months after extending the 4 to Totton College?

It looks like we will still have duplicated route numbers between operators too, although as a commenter to the last post pointed out, it was originally Bluestar who started the mildly confusing  practise of using route numbers already in use by another operator.

We'll let you know as soon as we hear any more.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Entire First Southampton network to be recast

First have registered that their entire Southampton network is to be withdrawn as of Sunday 29th April (with the exceptions of the 21, Bitterne Hoppa B1/B2/B3 and Sunday journeys on Velvet A). How they will be replaced is not yet known, so First must still be reviewing their plans for a new bus network in our city, designed from scratch. This will be the most drastic revision of bus routes in the city for decades.

We do know that new routes 4 and X4 will run from Southampton via Woolston and Lowford to Locks Heath, where some buses will run on to Gosport, some to Fareham and some on to Portsmouth. The cancellation of the current Southampton network means there will be no route number clash with the existing First 4 to Totton. Bluestar still have a 4 mind, but I suppose it's too much to ask for First to use route numbers that aren't already in use by other operators.

Meanwhile, Velvet have postponed the planned changes to routes A, C1 and C2 in order to accommodate passenger feedback they have received in response to their draft timetables. The pencilled-in date for changes to those routes is now 11th June. The new A journeys to Hamble will still start on Monday 2nd April however.

First 72 and 80 are getting a temporary timetable from Sunday 1st April. The 72 is only changed on Sundays, returning to its 2-hour frequency that it had before the winter. The 80 gets an additional service on Saturday afternoons at 1420 from Fareham and 1531 from Southampton Central Station, plus it reverts to its pre-winter Sunday timetable with an hourly frequency.