Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Recent and approaching changes

I've been busy moving house so haven't been able to post as often as I'd have liked. As such, this post is a 'limited stop' version.

Starting with changes that have already taken effect:

  • First M1 is up and running for the summer between Eastleigh and Marwell Zoo with selected journeys from and to Southampton.
  • First 10 and 11 in Fareham got a new timetable on 9th April.
  • First 19/19A in Portsmouth have been withdrawn, running for the last time on 21st April.
  • Southbourne S1/S2 have launched with two local routes in Ringwood from this Monday just gone, 24th April.

Coming up in the next few days:

There are more changes on the way across the region after that. See a summary on this page. See the new timetables on the operators' websites or at Traveline.

Friday, 24 March 2017

So long to Sundays in Swindon

This coming Sunday, 26th March, is your last chance to travel between Salisbury and Swindon by bus on a Sunday. It's the last day of Stagecoach 5, which is being withdrawn due to a subsidy cut by Wiltshire Council, wielding the axe that's been devolved to them by central government. Parts of the route will remain covered on Sundays by other services, such as Salisbury Reds X4, which runs from Salisbury as far as Durrington and Larkhill. On Mondays to Saturdays, you can continue to travel through to Swindon on Salisbury Reds X5.

In other news, almost all of our region's bus services will be running a Sunday service on both Good Friday and Easter Monday, but a notable exception is Bluestar, who will be providing a Saturday service on most routes on Good Friday. All Bluestar routes with the exception of the 6, 35, 36 and 39 will have a Saturday service. Unilink U1N will also run, although Unilink's daytime service will be on the Sunday timetable, as will Bluestar 6, with no service on the 35, 36 or 39.

In Bournemouth and Poole, More will also be providing a Saturday service on most routes on Good Friday. The exceptions are as follows:
  • A Sunday service running on routes 152, X1, X2, X8 and Bluestar 6
  • No services running on local routes 7a, 7b, 7c, 10, 24, 32, 38, 112, 128, Route One & Ringo

It'll be a Sunday service all round on Easter Monday.

It's Mothers' Day this Sunday and Go South Coast are celebrating by letting mums travel for free across all of their brands. Mums must however be accompanied by a paying child using a Dayrider ticket in order to qualify. The offer is valid on Bluestar, More and Salisbury Reds.

It's 30 years since Solent Blue Line launched in Southampton, so its modern day version, Bluestar, is holding a celebration at the Bargate on Sunday 4th June.

Stagecoach have announced some minor timetable changes to routes 69, 85 and 86 in Winchester from 30th April. Some schools and colleges routes are also affected.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Boorley Park bus starts Monday

New homes are being built just north of Boorley Green:

July 2016

The new development is by the roundabout just north of Braxells Farm.

Some are already completed, so from Monday Xelabus launch a new route, the X5, which will connect the new development with Hedge End Railway Station.

The new development is right next to the Braxells Farm bus stop. Initially, it will only run at peak hours:

It enables residents of the new homes to catch the bus to Hedge End Station in time for these trains. You can also connect there for First 8 and Xelabus X9.

Just down the road from the development at the Pear Tree pub is where Bluestar 3 terminates.

The stops at Braxells Farm are also served between the peaks by Xelabus X15, which has a new timetable (with only minor timing changes) from Monday:

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New timetables on First Soton from Sunday

First have new timetables on most of their Southampton routes from Sunday 26th February. Full details here. The main changes are a route change to the 1 in Coxford and the 7 in Midanbury and Townhill Park - details of those here. The new timetables are also on Traveline.

A couple of last buses are being cut: The 0010 departure from the city centre on First 7 to Townhill Park is cut, meaning the 2310 is the last bus. On route 11 to Weston, the 0025 departure from town will now only run on Fridays and Saturdays, meaning that the 2325 is now the last bus on Mondays to Thursdays.

With Saints playing at Wembley on Sunday, both First and Bluestar are offering free travel around the city to anyone wearing a Saints top on Sunday only.

Further afield, the Sunday service between Salisbury and Swindon, Stagecoach 5, is being cut from April, with a possible frequency cut to the Mon-Sat Salisbury Reds X5 service. Wiltshire Council are currently slashing funding for subsidised bus routes across the county, making sure that ordinary people are made to pay for the government's tax cuts for the rich.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Turn up & go

Just a quick reminder that the changes in and around Salisbury mentioned here have now taken effect.

With the recent expansion of this blog to cover more than just Southampton's immediate surroundings, we'll be looking to profile some of the major bus routes in the other main towns and cities of our region, particularly concentrating on those that are 'turn up & go'. That is, they run at such a high frequency that you don't need to check a timetable before going to catch the bus.

But how frequent is 'turn up & go'?

Opinion varies, but I think most people would agree that a 10 minute frequency is enough to not need to check the timetable. This definition rightly puts all of First's City Reds network in Southampton firmly in the 'turn up & go' category for most of the day.

But how about frequencies that are just that little bit less? Every 12 minutes is probably still often enough to not need a timetable. Manchester's trams generally run every 12 minutes on all lines (double that on some) and that is considered often enough to not even publish timetables for passengers to check.

How about every 15 minutes? It's that little bit longer, but still just about a tolerable wait should you just miss one bus, as long as the route is fairly reliable. This would make Bluestar 1 'turn up & go'. I spent some time living near Bristol on a First route that was supposedly every 15 minutes. After a few waits of more than 30 minutes I ended up buying a car, but that's Bristol - a city that is now notorious for traffic jams and poor reliability of its buses - far worse than Southampton.

Every 20 minutes would leave enough of a gap that it would be worth checking the timetable.

So where do you draw the line and why? Every 10, 12 or 15 minutes?

Friday, 27 January 2017

First 1 & 7 rerouted from 26th Feb

First have revealed the details of changes to their Southampton routes from 26th February. See the details here.

There are generally minor timing changes affecting all routes other than the 8, but there are a couple of routing changes too:

The 1 (City Centre-Adanac Park) will use Olive Road instead of Aldermoor Avenue.

The 7 (City Centre-Townhill Park) will run the other way round the terminus loop in Midanbury and Townhill Park, which could backfire as those who forget to use the stops on the other side of the road can still get Bluestar 16 into town from the stops the 7 uses currently:

All of the new timetables are already on Traveline.

Further to the mention in the previous post about the Wiltshire Day Rover ticket, here's a summary of how you can get from Southampton to Oxford by bus for £8.50:
It's a long slog and not possible to get there and back same day from Southampton, but you could get the bus one way and then a cheap advance ticket on National Express, Megabus or Cross Country Trains to get back.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Salisbury changes and tickets

Saturday 4th February sees some changes to timetables and routes in and around Salisbury. Salisbury Reds have kindly provided a summary here.

New timetables are not yet on their website, nor are they on Traveline with less than two weeks to go. We do hope they will appear soon. now on both Salisbury Reds' and Traveline's websites.

Routes affected are PR7, PR9, PR15, X7, X7R, 2, 25, 26, 26A, 28, 37, 84, 87 and 88.

Staying in Salisbury, with Activ8, the route to Andover which is jointly operated by Salisbury Reds and Stagecoach. See the timetable here, but if you need to know which company runs which journey, use the timetable on Traveline. Why might you need to know that? Fares can differ between Salisbury Reds and Stagecoach. On Stagecoach you can look up any fare using their journey planner, while Salisbury Reds only list some sample single/return fares on their website.

For a single journey between Salisbury and Andover, Stagecoach charge £5.50, while Salisbury Reds are 10p cheaper. For a day return however, aim to get a Stagecoach bus as they charge £6.40, while Salisbury Reds want £7.50 for the return trip.

After 7pm, Stagecoach becomes even more of a bargain with a flat fare of £2.50 called NightRider Gold. Until now, it's only been valid on Stagecoach journeys, but Salisbury Reds now not only accept the ticket, but they will sell it too. They claim to be selling it for £2, but I think they're just not aware of the most recent price rise at Stagecoach - still great value nonetheless.

Another ticket you might not know about is the multi-operator Wiltshire Day Rover at £8.50. It's valid on all buses in Wiltshire, regardless of operator, plus on selected routes out of the county including Salisbury Reds X7/X7R all the way to Southampton, First 265 to Bath and routes to Swindon, Cirencester and Oxford. On Activ8 it's only valid between Salisbury and Faberstown near Ludgershall, but it still opens up some really good value days out.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Yellow revamp on Sunday / Bluestar fares up / Hedge End diversion

It's all change on Yellow Buses from Sunday as Bournemouth sees the biggest shake up of bus services in years. Most route numbers are changing and all routes get new timetables. See full details here. If it's all too confusing, More routes are staying the same.

In other new, some Bluestar fares go up from 22nd January. Full details here. One fare is coming down though - the 30 day Southampton zone ticket drops from £55 to £44. Fare payers outside the city could be forgiven for thinking they're subsidising an urban price war with First.

EDIT: From the same date, some More fares will also rise. Details here. There is one reduction: the 30 day zone A ticket drops from £68 to £60. Two new tickets become available exclusively on the More mobile app: a 3 day zone A ticket for £8 and a 30 day ticket for routes M1/M2 only for £40. See their zone map here. Some Salisbury Reds fares will also rise. Stagecoach are also putting some fares up - see their new day and weekly ticket prices here.

Bursledon Road in Hedge End is closed for water works from tomorrow. The closure, affecting Bluestar 3 and Xelabus X4, is shown by the blue cross on the map above. Both routes will divert via Freegrounds Avenue, Lower Saint Helens Road and Upper Saint Helens Road. The duration of the works is anyone's guess: Bluestar say it'll last until the end of January, while Xelabus have a little less faith in Southern Water and say it could take three months!