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- 5: Withdrawn, leaving Swaythling without an SCT/Citybus/First service for the first time since public transport first started in Southampton.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.