Wednesday, 25 April 2012

All change on First this Sunday

As if you needed reminding, the biggest change to Southampton's bus routes for several decades happens this weekend, when First revamp their entire network. Only routes 4 (the new Gosport one, not the old Totton one), 4A, X4, B1, B2 and B3 will remain unchanged.

There's an info day at West Quay tomorrow.

The city centre map has been released, showing exactly where the new routes will stop. See it here. See also the new full First network map and the new timetables.

We've reviewed the new network, route-by-route, in previous posts, but here's a handy quick guide explaining what will happen on each of the old routes. Click the links for full analysis of the changes on each route:

1/1A City Centre-Weston
Will be replaced by New 1. Biggest change: Jurds Lake Way is losing its service.

3 City Centre-Townhill Park
Will be replaced by New 7. Biggest change: More buses on weekday evenings and Saturday daytimes.

4 City Centre-General Hospital-Totton College
Will be replaced partly by New 8A but mainly by New 10. Biggest change: Weekday daytime frequency to Totton cut to hourly.

5 City Centre-Aldermoor
Will be replaced by New 5, New 8A and New 10. Biggest change: Route changes along the Hill Lane and Bellemoor corridor.

7 City Centre-Bassett Green
Will be replaced by New 5. Biggest change: All evening buses cut.

8 Lordshill-City Centre-Townhill Park
Will be replaced partly by New 1 and partly by New 2. Biggest change: Sunday daytime frequency to Townhill Park is doubled.

8A City Centre-Hedge End
Will be replaced by New 2A and New 8/8A. Biggest change: More frequent buses serving more of Hedge End than before.

9 City Centre-Hightown
Will be replaced by New 2A, New 8/8A and New 9. Biggest change: Buses from Harefield & Hightown will run via Peartree and Woolston instead of Northam.

10 Lordshill-City Centre-Thornhill
Will be replaced partly by New 2A but mainly by New 3. Biggest change: North East Road in Sholing will no longer be served.

11 City Centre-Sholing
Will be replaced by New 9. Biggest change: Weekday daytime frequency cut from 5 to 4 buses an hour.

12 City Centre-Sholing
Will be replaced by New 5. Biggest change: Mon-Sat daytime frequency cut from 3 to 2 buses an hour.

16 City Centre-Hamble
Will be replaced by New 6. Biggest change: Earlier first and later last buses.

17/17A City Centre-Lordshill
Will be replaced mainly by New 2/2A/X2 and partly by New 1. Biggest change: New faster route X2 between town and Millbrook.

21 RSH Hospital-City Centre-Lordshill North
Will be replaced mainly by New S1 and partly by New 8A. Biggest change: Route change to serve Kingsway.

72/80/80A City Centre-Locks Heath-Gosport/Fareham
Have already been replaced by New 4/4A/X4. Biggest change: More buses to Locks Heath and through buses to Portsmouth.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Feel the 4s!

This is the week of Southampton having not one, not two, but three route 4s!
Bluestar 4 to Romsey
First old 4 to Totton College via General Hospital
First new 4 to Gosport

This will end on Sunday, when all of First's routes in Southampton (apart from the new 4/4A/X4 and the Bitterne Hoppa B1/B2/B3) will be changing. See previous posts for full details.

First have been busy publicising the changes, but it is somewhat worrying that in the 'Timetable books' part of their website, you can still download out-of-date booklets for Southampton (OK, not too out-of-date this week, but they include the 72 and 80, which were withdrawn last weekend) and for Fareham, whose network was almost completely revised at the weekend.  Hopefully it won't lead to too many people being confused. They are having a stand outside M&S at West Quay on Thursday from 1000 to 1600 to answer any questions people have. Plus they're doing quite a good job of answering questions on their Facebook page.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Diversions: Portswood, Marchwood & Lymington

Three sets of diversions either happening now or coming soon:

Portswood affecting Bluestar 2, Unilink U1 & U6 and First 3 & 7.
Marchwood affecting Bluestar 8.
Lymington affecting W&D 112.

A quick reminder that this is the last week of operation of First 72 and 80. From Sunday, they are replaced by new routes 4, 4A and X4. Timetable here. Be careful though, because this means that for one week only (22nd-28th April inclusive) there are two different route 4s operated by First in Southampton. The new one going to Gosport and the old one running to General Hospital and Totton College.

The rest of First's routes in Southampton (including the old 4) will be revamped as of the following Sunday, 29th April.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Xela to the zoo

Xelabus have registered a new route between Eastleigh and Marwell Zoo. The X8 will run Mondays to Saturdays (but not on public holidays) from Monday 11th June.

This seems to be a weekday extension of the service currently offered at weekends by Velvet M. On Saturdays however, the two will go head to head, although Velvet has the advantage of accepting the Solent Travelcard and those through passengers from Southampton connecting from Bluestar 2 at Eastleigh.

More on Xelabus X8 as and when we get it.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

New First network: route S1 analysed

Old 21 is replaced by new S1 running to exactly the same route.

CORRECTION: There is a route change between the city centre and the RSH Hospital in order to serve Kingsway.

Comparing the times, there is absolutely no difference between the two. No change to old 21/new S1 at all.

There is just one improvement for Lordshill North in the form of a earlier weekday bus to town at 0635 on new 8A via General Hospital and Bellemoor. That's an hour before the first new S1 will run. There's also a new 8A in the evening that extends beyond its normal terminus at General Hospital to serve Lordshill North, departing town at 1748, over an hour after the last full-route new S1 leaves. It should be noted that those extended new 8As do not serve Lordswood, they run direct along Lordshill Way.

So that's it! We've covered the entire new First network. We'll monitor First's publicity and will let you know of any more details that are released. Please also leave a comment and let us know how the changes will affect you.

We'll have more analysis over the next few weeks.

Remember, these changes take effect on Sunday 29th April (a week earlier for new 4/4A/X4) and the new timetables can all be found here.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

New First network: route 10 analysed

The penultimate route now...

New 10 will run largely as per old 5 but with a few variations between town and the General Hospital and then as old 4 between there and Totton College. Here's the full route on Google Maps.

Let's compare old 5 and new 10 between town and Wilton Road, where they run to the same route with the exception of new 10 running via London Road and Carlton Crescent instead of Bedford Place (which will be served by new 5):
A general reduction here, although the Mon-Sat daytime hourly frequency is maintained. Last buses will run earlier and the first weekday bus will be later. Only the first Saturday bus is improved.

See my post on new 8A for the comparison of the old and new combined service levels between General Hospital and town.

From the General Hospital to Totton College, new 10 runs to the same route as old 4. So how do they compare?:
More cuts here. Where there are two times, the earlier first and later last buses only run as far as Totton Precinct, where the other time is the first/last bus through to/from Totton College. The weekday daytime frequency is halved to hourly and the last bus to Totton Precinct will be earlier than before. Saturdays are improved slightly with an earlier first bus and the last service now running all the way to Totton College. The M for the old 4 Sunday service means it only runs as far as Millbrook Tesco and does not serve Totton at all. New 10 won't run on Sundays at all.

The changes take effect from Sunday 29th April and the new timetables can be found here.

Next: new S1...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

New First network: route 9 analysed

New 9 will run to the exact same route as old 11 between town and Sholing via Bitterne. Here's how the service levels compare:
The weekday daytime frequency drops from 5 to 4 buses an hour and the first buses will run later at weekends, but the last bus will run 15 minutes later than now every night.

This change takes place on Sunday 29th April and the full new timetables are here.

Next, new 10...

Monday, 2 April 2012

New First network: routes 8/8A (east) analysed

New 8 and 8A will run together from town, through Northam to Bitterne replacing old 9 and 9A. The 9A variation via Chessel Avenue is withdrawn without replacement, so all buses will run via Bitterne Road West. After that, they go the way of the old 8A along Townhill Way and through West End.

They then split at the Tollbar Way roundabout, with the new 8 going first to Hedge End Superstores and then on via Turnpike Way (relegated long ago by Bluestar to a peak-hours only diversion on their 3) and Upper Northam Road to the village centre, where 8 becomes 8A and continues round.

From the Tollbar Way roudabout, the new 8A turns left to serve Hedge End Rail Station, then to Maypole (another attack on Bluestar 3) and along Lower Northam Road to turn into a new 8 in the village centre.

I've plotted the new routes on Google Maps with the joint section in red, new 8 in brown and new 8A in orange.

The evening new 8B service to Botley will run as per old 8A through Hedge End:

Town to Bitterne via Northam, currently served by old 9 and 11, will be served by new 8, 8A and 9, in competition with Bluestar 3 and 18 and Brijan 7.

Lets's compare old 8A between West End and town with new 8/8A:
An extra bus an hour Mon-Sat daytimes and an earlier first bus at weekends are the positives. The last bus through to West End and Hedge End on Mon-Sat evenings will however be over an hour earlier than currently.

Where the routes split to run round Hedge End, they effectively offer 4 buses an hour Mon-Sat daytimes to all parts served, as long as you don't mind having to travel around the rest of the loop occasionally.

Surely Bluestar will need to respond to this somehow.

All of these changes to First's routes take place on Sunday 29th April (A week earlier in the case of new 4/4A/X4 via Locks Heath) and the new timetables can be found here.

Next, new 9...

Velvet M to Marwell Zoo launches this Friday!

Marwell Zoo is easy to get to again as of this Friday! Velvet M will run every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday until 2nd September between Eastleigh bus and rail stations and the zoo, which I really can't bring myself to call a 'wildlife'. Details here.

If arriving by train, don't be tempted to use the Eastleigh Plusbus ticket as it is only valid as far as Fishers Pond and there are no footpaths from there to the zoo. Solent Travelcard will be valid however, not just on Velvet but on all operators' buses (except Xelabus) in South Hampshire.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New First network: route 8A (west) analysed

New 8A will start at the General Hospital and head into town along a mish-mash of the old 4 and 5 routes. It's a bit awkward to explain, so here's First's rendition:
New 8A being the one in light-ish blue. If that still isn't clear enough, I've plotted the route onto Google Maps. By the way, either Upper Shirley has moved since I was last there or the people working on First's maps don't know the city as well as I do.

The routes in this part of the city are changing so much it's difficult to make a direct comparison. It's probably best to compare old 4 and 5 with new 8A and 10 in one go. I'll cover new 10 in more detail in a couple of days, but I'll include it when comparing the old and new service levels to the General Hospital:
An extra bus an hour on Saturday daytimes, but earlier last buses on Mon-Sats and still no evening service. In the evenings, you'd need to catch new 3 between the General and town, which runs via Shirley.

Looking at the routes, Dale Valley Road gains new 8A to go alongside old 21/new S1, while Dale Road loses it's old 5 to town without replacement but is just a short walk from alternatives. The Sports Centre gains an extra route (new 8A, 10 and S1 compared to old 4 and 21) and Bellemoor Road only had old 21 before so gains a quicker journey to town on new 8A.

The next direct comparison we can make is Hill Lane (Tauntons College) to town, measuring up old 4 and new 8A, which go the same way:
An improvement compared to now for Hill Lane.

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

Tomorrow, we'll cover new 8 and 8A between town and Hedge End.

Velvet fares rise postponed / A extends some journeys to Hamble

Velvet's fares hike scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled. They're a bit busy trying to maintain their fuel supply, so the fares won't now rise for a few weeks. We'll let you know when the new date is known. Details of the eventual new fares here.

Secondly, a couple of journeys a day on Velvet A will extend from Hedge End to Hamble from tomorrow, restoring the direct link to Eastleigh. Times here.

Stagecoach are putting their fares up too, effective today, unfortunately without delay.