Monday, 24 August 2015

Changes this coming weekend

This weekend coming up sees changes to quite a few of our region's bus routes. Here's a quick summary:

Sunday 30th August
The following route will run for the last time this year:

New timetables on the following routes:

Bank Holiday Monday 31st August
Sunday service on all routes.
The following route will run for the last time this year:

Tuesday 1st September
New timetables on the following routes:

See the new timetables on these operator links or at Traveline:

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Thornhill escalates / E1/E2 to go? / Xela replaces Brijan early

First 10 hasn't even started running yet - it launches on Sunday 6th September - but a change is already scheduled for 11th October. Details as we get them.

Wheelers have deregistered the E1/E2 routes between Eastleigh and Winchester as of 11th October. This is a Hampshire County Council subsidised route, so it could be going to another operator or being cut entirely.

Xelabus have taken over Brijan Tours' routes early due to the closure of Brijan. Timetables and route numbers are unchanged for now, but they will change on 7th September. The timetables are now available on Traveline.

Talking of Traveline, timetables and route maps are now available on there for First's changes from 6th September. Here's the map for the 9:

Ignore the extra blue and green lines without any red dots on them in Merry Oak - that's Traveline's computer getting confused.

The 13 also has a route change around Harefield from 6th September:

Starting 7th September, Xelabus X15 replaces Brijan 8B, 15 and Xelabus X56 with a five days a week link between Hamble and Eastleigh:

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Bluestar 16 to run via Bitterne

Bluestar have revamped their website and given notice that the 16 will be rerouted via Bitterne and Northam from 28th September:

First 12 currently links Townhill Park with Bitterne and will be withdrawn on this side of the city from 6th September. Bluestar 16 currently runs via Bevois Valley, Portswood and St Denys, which will continue to be served by First 7.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bluestar to launch new route to Sholing as First cuts

With First cutting route 5 altogether and reducing the far end of Sholing's only other route, the 9, from three an hour to a sort of half-hourly service but with occasional gaps in service of an hour, Bluestar have seen the opportunity...

Full details of Bluestar 7 here. It starts on 6th September, which is a Sunday - Bluestar 7 will serve Sholing on Sundays, unlike First 9. There is no evening service yet, last bus from town will be at 1916 Mon-Sat and 1711 on Sundays, but it's a start. As this is a commercial service, people in Sholing will need to use it or lose it. The 7 also brings Bluestar back to Woolston after the 3 was diverted away from the area in June.

Rumours abound that Bluestar 16, which along with the 18 will be revised from 28th September, is going to restore Townhill Park's link with Bitterne, which is being cut by First with the withdrawal of the eastern half of the 12 from 6th September. Watch this space.

Xelabus have changes to many routes from Monday 7th September, including the takeover of the former Brijan routes. See a full summary here.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Timetables out / Map nostalgia

First have released the new timetables for those routes changing on 6th September. See them here.

Bluestar have published the timetables for their routes that are changing on 1st September, which can be seen here.

With the axing of route 5 and the eastern half of the 12, the First network will look significantly smaller than it does today. This is part of a long term trend though, as a look at this First Southampton network map from September 2009 shows:

The new one hasn't yet been released, but here's the one that's valid up to 5th September:

The next one will have nothing running to Swaythling & Bassett Green and more empty space east of the Itchen.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Bluestar to bite back?

The last post has attracted more comments than any other in this blog's six year history. Testament indeed to how many people read it (many thanks to all of you who do) and of course to how many people in our city are going to be adversely affected by the imminent changes to the First network from 6th September.

First held a 'Meet the Manager' session on their Facebook page on Tuesday. Many people asked about the cuts in services to Sholing, Merry Oak, Harefield and Townhill Park, but they all got the same answer: that those services are not used by enough full fare-paying passengers. It's an interesting choice of words and accurately highlights several problems facing all bus companies in Britain outside London:

  • Fewer people are travelling by bus
  • A higher proportion of those still travelling by bus are pensioners on free passes
  • Bus companies are not being adequately reimbursed by the government for the cost of transporting pensioners. The costs are therefore being picked up by taxpayers and full fare-paying passengers through higher fares, which in turn deter more full fare-paying passengers
  • In the current system, all bus companies exist to make a profit. If they lose money on a route and local councils are unwilling or unable to subsidise it, they are free to cut that route.

When the council ran the city's buses, they had a duty to make sure that all areas of the city were connected with a reasonable service. Now nobody has that duty. First's only duty is to make money for its shareholders. The council can subsidise extra routes to fill in the gap in the commercial bus network, but it has no legal obligation to do so. Therefore we are now seeing services being drastically cut in large areas of Southampton.

With the new First 10 set to duplicate the eastern half of Bluestar 18, the boys in blue aren't taking it lying down. They've registered a timetable change for the 18 from 21st September (in addition to the change already scheduled for 1st Sep), details of which are still to be revealed, but it's highly likely that a frequency boost is on the cards. All Unilink routes also get new timetables from the same date.

Some Stagecoach routes linking our region with Winchester have new timetables from 30th August. See them at these links: 46, 66, 69.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

First changes: Sholing shafted

First have released details of their service changes from 6th September. Here are some of the main points:

  • 5: Withdrawn, leaving Swaythling without an SCT/Citybus/First service for the first time since public transport first started in Southampton. Bassett Green is left to Unilink U2 and Swaythling has Bluestar 2, Unilink U1 and Unilink U6.
  • 9: Mon-Sat daytime frequency halved to half-hourly. Diverted to run from the City Centre via Woolston, Merry Oak and Bitterne to Sholing, keeping Sholing's link with Woolston but with a longer journey time and of course extending the journey time to the City Centre. The Sunday service is cut completely.
  • 13: Diverted to serve Peartree instead of Merry Oak. Mon-Sat daytime frequency cut to hourly. Still no Sunday service.
  • 12: Will only run between the City Centre and Lordshill. Frequency cut to half-hourly. Townhill Park and Midanbury are left with no link to Bitterne other than the Bitterne Hoppa B1 service.
  • 8: Diverted to run via Northam instead of Peartree & Woolston.
  • 1: Mon-Sat daytime frequency halved to half-hourly.
  • 10: New route that will run at a high frequency between the City Centre and Thornhill, designed to take passengers from Bluestar 18.
  • City Red routes: the 2, 3, 7 and 11 get extra buses to make them more reliable with no major route changes.

As a Swaythling boy myself, I never thought I'd see the day when Citybus's successor gave up completely on the part of the city I grew up in. First have taken a ten minute frequency to the city centre and run it down to the point where they are now left with nothing. In that time, they have also presided over the loss of Swaythling's direct bus links to Chartwell Green, Shirley, Millbrook and Totton. Luckily the university stepped in a few years ago and helps support Unilink, now run by Bluestar, which fills some of the gaps and makes sure that Swaythling is not cut off. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Harefield and the far end of Sholing, which do seem to be heading for total car dependency.

In positive news, Bluestar 1 is being boosted from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes Mon-Sat daytimes from 1st September. Details of that and minor changes to Bluestar 5, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 18 here.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

First to surrender Swaythling?

First have a whole raft of changes on the way from 6th September. Details haven't been announced yet, but from the VOSA registrations, we can see that the 5 is to be withdrawn. If there's no replacement, then this ends First's provision of services to Swaythling, an area they dominated when they first bought Citybus. It could also mean the end of Woolston's link to the far end of Sholing.

First 12 will be cut to run between Lordshill and the City Centre only.

A new route, the 10 will run a circular route which will include the City Centre, Bitterne and Thornhill - direct competition for that end of Bluestar 18 perhaps?

We'll let you know once more details have been released.

A late addition to services to Marwell Zoo this summer: Stagecoach M3 from Winchester Railway Station is due to start on Saturday. No mention so far on Stagecoach's own website, but Traveline has the route map and timetable and the zoo gives us the following:

This makes Marwell Zoo better connected by bus this summer than it has been for several years, what with First M1 from Eastleigh and First M2 (now running Wednesdays and Sundays) providing direct links from across Southampton.