Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bluestar retaliates / Bevois Valley diversion / Stagecoach Smart

The next change to our region's bus services is a timetable change on Bluestar 1 from Monday 13th August. Not much is changing. According to Traveline, the only additions are one bus each way on weekdays between town and Chandlers Ford Asda, timed two to three minutes ahead of Xelabus X11, which is only running until Friday 24th August anyway. It's Bluestar's way of telling Xelabus not to get any ideas about trying to compete on their routes.

Bevois Valley has some roadworks from Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd August, which will mean diversions to First 7 and Unilink U6.

Regular users of Stagecoach will probably already know that they've rolled out their Stagecoach Smart card to their buses here in the South. It works in a similar way to The Key on Bluestar. Details of the tickets you can get as a smartcard on Stagecoach can be found here.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Lymington train v bus / First family offer / Millbrook roadworks

There will be diversions in Millbrook from Monday, as Kendal Avenue is resurfaced. First 2, 2A and X2 and Bluestar 18 will be affected.

First have a special offer on from this Sunday until Saturday 1st September. Their FirstDay Hampshire Family ticket is being cut from its usual price of £13 to £10. It is valid for 5 people (max 2 adults) all day on all First services in Hampshire, which apart from Southampton mainly serve Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth.

Bluestar have negotiated several discounts for holders of their Key smartcard. One of the participating restaurants is La Viña Tapas & Wine in Lymington. Just don't rely on the bus to get you back from an evening meal there: The last Bluestar 6 leaves Lymington at 1735 Mon-Sats and 1720 on Sundays. Might be best to skip dessert. The trains do run later however, the last one leaving Lymington Town station at 2235 Mon-Sats and 2216 on Sundays - change at Brockenhurst for Southampton Central, with a total journey time of up to an hour and 20 minutes including the connection. A single on the train from Central Station to Lymington Town is £7.70, while an off-peak day return is £7.90, so you might as well get the train both ways if you do fancy an evening meal at La Viña. For the record, Bluestar 6 would charge you £5.60 single or £7.50 day return to get from town to Lymington, but of course Explorer day tickets (£8) are valid on the 6 and across the entire Bluestar, More and Salisbury Reds networks.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Wilts & Dorset name to disappear

Wilts & Dorset has been a familiar name to bus users in those counties and here in Hampshire for decades, but those words will soon be no more, as a look at their website explains:

The Bournemouth & Poole operation, which also includes Lymington, is becoming More. The Salisbury operation, which includes W&D's services in Romsey, is changing to Salisbury Reds. Technically they remain part of the same company, but the new brands will be adopted. This mirrors what happened here with Bluestar starting as a sub-brand of Solent Blue Line, then growing to become the main brand itself. Looking at the ticketing pages there is some confusion. Bluestar and W&D, both part of the Go Ahead group, have recognised each other's Explorer day tickets for years, but there's a hint that this will end. Bluestar's website says that their Explorers are valid on W&D, presumably both parts. More's website does not mention Bluestar, so Explorers bought in the New Forest on their buses might no longer be valid on Bluestar. Salisbury Reds do mention Bluestar on the Explorer part of their website, so no change from their side. Maybe it's just an omission on More's part. Let's hope so.

In other news, Romsey has its carnival on Sunday afternoon, which will mean possible delays on Bluestar 4 journeys running between 1430 and 1700. The only other route serving Romsey on a Sunday is Stagecoach 966 which launches this weekend. Its return journey from Paultons Park towards Winchester is due to pass through Romsey at 1720 so it should just miss out on all the delays.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Xelabus changes / Diversions / Olympic torch

There are some strange goings on at Xelabus. But first, a round up of news...

Romsey Road in Maybush will be partially closed from 1900-0600 each evening until 16th July. During those times, Bluestar 4 will be following this diversion:
First 1, 2 and 2A will also divert.

Roadworks on Millbrook Road mean Bluestar are expecting delays to routes 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and W&D X7 until 17th July.

The Olympic Torch will be in Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Lymington on Saturday, causing delays to all bus routes in the area, but particularly Bluestar 6, which serves all three. It might be worth catching the train instead on that day if there's a convenient station.

The Torch gets to central Southampton early on Saturday evening. Details here. Bluestar have said to expect minor delays.

To our top story now. For the last few days, when trying to access Xelabus's website, Chrome gives me the following warning:
I've not wanted to proceed beyond that kind of warning, so hopefully it'll all be sorted out soon. Especially as there are a few changes coming up on several Xelabus routes. First up is a new timetable on routes X1, X2, X4 and X5 from 23rd July as well as the launch of temporary route X11, which will run one journey a day in each direction largely along the Bluestar 1 route between town and the Asda hypermarket in Chandlers Ford. As there are so many problems with their website, I've managed to find the following on Traveline for you:

The X11 will be withdrawn again after 24th August, followed the following day by the X5, X8 (Eastleigh-Marwell Zoo link) and X9 (Rush hour journeys between Eastleigh and Fair Oak). From 28th August however, the X3 will launch to Valley Park replacing the X5.

Given the problems accessing Xelabus's website, the best place to look for route and timetable information is Traveline. Here's what I found for you. Scroll down from the timetables for a list of stops and roads served:

X1 current
X1 from 23rd July (route change in Stoke Common)
X2 current
X2 from 23rd July (route change to serve Bosville instead of Twyford Road)
X4 current
X4 from 23rd July (will no longer serve Velmore)
X5 current
X5 from 23rd July until 25th August (Timing changes and diverted to serve Velmore instead of North Stoneham)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Summer days out: New Forest & Paultons Park links

Now that Marwell Zoo has daily buses in the form of Velvet M and Xelabus X8, it's time for our region's other attractions to catch up...

The New Forest Tour from Bluestar and Wilts & Dorset launched for its 2012 season last weekend. It runs two routes daily until 16th September. Tickets are available for 1, 2 or 5 days which are valid on both tour routes plus several connecting Bluestar and W&D routes including Bluestar 6 from Lymington and Lyndhurst to Totton and Southampton and W&D 112 from Lymington to Hythe. Full details here.

Paultons Park is already served daily by W&D X7 from Southampton and Salisbury. From 22nd July until 1st September inclusive, it gains a daily direct bus from Winchester and Romsey in the form of Stagecoach 966. This will also offer better connections for people in Eastleigh wishing to travel to Paultons, as demonstrated by this cobbled together timetable:
Solent Travelcard will be valid for the entire journey. I should point out that my timetable above only shows the connections between Paultons Park and Eastleigh. For the full Stagecoach 966 service from and to Winchester, including on Sundays, see the full timetable here.