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Thursday, 3 March 2011
Yesterday, I visited Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst in the New Forest in an attempt to get some photos of BlueStar's takeover on route 56/56A - now BlueStar route 6 - from Southampton to Lymington. It was day 2 of the Monday-Saturday operation, and not everything appears to have settled down just yet...
Dart MPDs now appear to be the most common bus on the 6. BlueStar operate 6 of their original 2003 delivery of 12 MPDs, all from Totton, and these are usually the main bus used on routes 10/11, so it is natural they move onto the 6 due to the interworking. Here is 571 (SN03EBP) heading for Lymington, pictured in Lyndhurst.
Solos and Dart MPDs are expected to form the bulk of the allocation on route 6, which has seen two Solos move over freshly from Wilts & Dorset and 2668 (V668DFX) move down from Eastleigh depot. 2668 is pictured in Lyndhurst, still with Baby BlueStar branding on the offside.
I observed 7 of the 10 buses allocated to the route 6/10/11 network. I didn't see a one double decker unfortunately - this is expected to change in the future with Spectra 3162 in BlueStar livery and 3163 expected to follow. This is MPD 574 (SN03EBX) at Brockenhurst.
As far as I am aware, 3 Totton Solos in Blue and 2 Lymington Solos in blue are to operate route 6 along with the Darts and Spectras. Here is 2634 (T634AJT), which I first photographed in the colours of W&D at Lymington bus station. She is pictured here heading from Lymington, for Southampton.
Finally, some red Wilts & Dorset buses are still slipping back onto BlueStar 6, and therefore the 10 and 11 to Cadnam. Route 6 is a mixture of Marchwood Motorways registered journeys and Wilts & Dorset registered journeys, operated under the BlueStar brand. Therefore, if Lymington are short of blue buses, they could send red ones - such as Solo 2675 (V675FEL) - on to the route to cover. I'm sure as allocations settle down this will become a rarity reserved for emergencies or maybe the odd Sunday mistake (where it is expected the driver will interwork with the X1/2 to Bournemouth and 6 to Southampton, but swap red and blue buses), but for the past 2 days some red buses have operated BlueStar route 6. Not bad for the customer providing buses turn up - which they do - although there has already been a small amount of confusion on the BlueStar facebook site with Wilts & Dorset buses operating to Cadnam again on the 10/11...