Thursday, 20 February 2014

Bluestar & Xelabus changes this weekend / Ringwood cut off again

This Sunday 23rd February sees new timetables on Bluestar 1, 2, 8, 9 and 18. Bluestar's night buses will run for the last time this Saturday night.

Some Bluestar fares are changing, including period tickets. Bluestar however remains the last major operator in our region not to publish full details of single and return fares on their website. I never thought First would beat them to that, but they have.

Xelabus have new timetables on all of their routes from Monday, but you can't find them yet on their website. They are on Traveline, but the 'new' timetable there for the X3 is wrong. The X3 is being cut back to only run on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Looking ahead to April and also being withdrawn are Velvet's night route N8 and the 300 to Ringwood. Neither will run after 6th April. Ringwood then resumes its status as being cut off from Southampton's bus network. National Express still provide direct journeys by coach.

After 6th April, the only remaining night bus routes will be Unilink U1N, which is being extended to Eastleigh, and Velvet N6.

Monday, 17 February 2014

First fares crystal clear

First revamped their fares in Southampton a couple of weeks ago, but I've only just discovered the extent of what they have done. On their website, you can find this:

...and this:

Between them, those two images allow you to work out the single or return fare for any journey with First in and around Southampton. The whole city and surrounding areas have been divided into just 14 fare zones. The simplified matrix makes it easy to see what the single fare is for any journey based on which fare zones it starts and finishes in.

They deserve praise for this. I'm not aware of any other First subsidiary making their single and return fares so transparent to the passenger. Here in Southampton, they now join Velvet and Unilink in being totally upfront with potential customers about how much a journey will cost them.

This leaves Bluestar and Salisbury Reds, who provide patchy information about single fares, Wheelers, who provide fares info for route W1 only and Brijan Tours who provide no fares information. The pressure is surely on them to catch up now.

Looking at First's single fares, most of the city can be reached from town for just £2 single. Weston, Sholing and Lordshill zones are the exception at £2.50. A cross-city journey that remains within the city boundary will cost no more than £3. Crossing the city boundary, there's a maximum single fare of £4.

This information will help people decide whether or not it is worth buying a day ticket. See the full range on their website. Here's a summary of the ones that First flogs and the prices for an adult ticket:

FirstDay City: £3.20 - valid within the dotted line on the map above or the pink area on this map.
FirstDay Southampton: £4.20 - valid on the whole Southampton network including Hamble & Hedge End.
FirstDay Hampshire: £5.90 - valid on all First buses in Hampshire.
FirstNight: £3 - valid after 1900 on all First buses in Hampshire.
Solent Travelcard: £7.50 - valid on buses of almost all operators in the zone shown here.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

False alarm in Hiltingbury / Hedge End diversion tomorrow / Bluestar tickets go up

False alarm! Xelabus C3 and C4 are safe. Phil Blair from Xelabus confirmed in a comment on this blog that the confusion is down to an administrative error at the traffic commissioner's office. It's only the 505 school bus that is being cancelled.

Tomorrow (Thursday) there are roadworks on Heath House Lane in Hedge End, meaning diversions to Bluestar 3 and Velvet A.

Bluestar period tickets are going up as of 23rd February. See the new prices here. As always, you pay less if you buy you ticket on The Key or the Bluestar mobile app.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Bridge work done / Hiltingbury mystery / Night star goes out

First have announced an early end to the evening roadworks on Itchen Bridge and the resultant bus diversions.

Xelabus C3 and C4 will cease running as of 4th April. The cancellation was announced via VOSA (the government agency with which changes to any local bus service have to be registered) today. Not sure what's happening here, because when Hampshire County Council gave Xelabus the contract for these routes, it was intended to run until October 2015:

There are big changes to some Bluestar routes in a couple of weeks time. The main one being the withdrawal of most of our city's night buses. Unilink U1N will still run however and is extended to Eastleigh. More nearer the change date, which is 23rd February.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Central Station outbound diversions

Roadworks near Central Station mean diversions to buses heading out of town. Buses heading eastbound into the city centre are unaffected.

The only stops affected here are SB, SC and SD. For the duration of the works, about 17 weeks, outbound buses will use a temporary stop on Commercial Road near the junction with Wyndham Place.

Click to see what First, Bluestar and Salisbury Reds say about the diversions. Wheelers W2 is also diverted.

Monday, 3 February 2014

First fares simplified / 12 diverted / Hampshire rated

First are changing their fares from this coming Saturday. They claim that nearly 63% of passengers will see no increase. The big idea is to have simpler single and return fares in multiples of 50p. See some sample fares here. Tickets valid for a day or longer are unchanged.

First 12 is diverted due to roadworks on Oakley Road for several weeks. It is currently running via Romsey Road and Tebourba Way.

Bluestar have unveiled the full new timetables for those routes that are changing on 23rd February. See them here.

Our sister blog, the British Bus Bugle, rated Southampton City Council's bus information a few weeks ago. Now, it's taken a look at Hampshire County Council, who are responsible for the rest of the county except Portsmouth. Read the Bugle's verdict here.