Friday, 23 November 2018

First turns the screws on Hamble & Hedge End

First 11 was their last high frequency route on which they faced no competition. That changed on 11th November, when Bluestar 17 was extended to Weston. First responded by increasing the frequency of the 11 to up to every 5 minutes on weekday daytimes. This suggests their plan isn't working out well:

From 28th November, fares are going up, but curiously only on routes 6 and 8 and only on journeys starting or ending outside of the city boundary. This means that passengers in Netley, Hamble, West End and Hedge End (who have no other choice) are being disproportionately punished for the mess that First have made for themselves locally. For now, day and period tickets are staying the same, but it's occasional travellers who buy single or return tickets who will be clobbered.

This eagerness to put up fares in those areas and not in Southampton suggests that First are struggling to make ends meet locally and know that they can't increase fares in the city because almost all of their passengers now have a viable alternative offered by Bluestar.

One thing First have managed to achieve is to tell us what levels of service they'll be running over Christmas and the New Year in Southampton, Portsmouth, Wessex and Bath (for the sake of the D1 to Salisbury).

We also have Christmas plans in from Salisbury Reds and Southern Vectis, the latter of which will be providing what must be the country's most comprehensive network of bus services on Christmas Day itself, but nothing yet from Slowcoach Stagecoach. Will anywhere on the mainland have anything like the Isle of Wight's level of service on 25th December? Certainly not Portsmouth, that's for sure.

Talking of the P word, First have registered two new routes to start 6th January. The 6 will run between The Hard and Southsea via Old Portsmouth. The 12 will run between Tipner and Fratton, similar to what the 17 did before September. Timetables are not yet known, but it looks like these are funded by Portsmouth City Council, so Tipner will probably have nothing like the frequency it used to have and after a service gap of 4 months, most regular passengers will have had to make alternative arrangements long ago.

Congratulations to Go South Coast, the company trading as Bluestar, More, Salisbury Reds, Southern Vectis, Damory and Something Or Other In Swindon. They've beaten off national competition to be crowned Large Bus Operator of the Year at the RouteOne awards, which is apparently the Oscars of the bus world.

An overview of all upcoming service changes in our region is available on this page. Why not bookmark it? It's updated often before we have time to write full posts and includes links to all of our local operators' Christmas plans. It will soon be updated to give a comprehensive day-by-day summary of bus service levels across this blog's 10th festive period for our entire region.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Festive bus services: What we know so far

Christmas is only a few weeks away and the following operators have published their service levels over the festive period (click for details):

No word yet from First, Stagecoach or Salisbury Reds.

On Christmas Day, Bluestar will be running two routes: the 18, which is extended to the General Hospital and Lordshill, and the 1X which will be a hybrid of the 1 and 2 - it'll run as per the 2 between Southampton and Eastleigh, then along Leigh Road to Chandlers Ford and then via Otterbourne and the Royal Hampshire County Hospital to Winchester.

More will be running the M1 and M2 on Christmas Day again, with each route extended to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Christchurch.

Boxing Day will see a full Sunday service from Bluestar, except for route 6, which will not run. More will also have a Sunday service on most routes in the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation.

After all that, the weekend of 6th/7th January sees changes to many services, especially on Yellow Buses in Bournemouth. First Weymouth 2 (which has an extra weekday evening bus for Overcombe and minor changes on Sundays) and More X8 and 13 will also be amended. We'll let you know the details of those as soon as they come in.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

W1 cut back to Chilworth / Christmas Day buses

Wheelers W1 is being cut back from 5th November, to only run between Southampton and Chilworth. It stopped running at weekends in September last year. Now it will no longer run to Romsey. New timetable here.

11th November sees changes to several Bluestar routes, including the extension of the 17 to Weston and Adanac Park. Full detail here of the changes to routes, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17 and 18.

Christmas bus service plans are slowly being released. Services that will be operating on Christmas Day include Bluestar 1 and 18 and More M1/M2. More as details are confirmed.

There's a change to First Weymouth 2 from 6th Jan. Not yet clear what it is, but we'll let you know as soon as details are out.