Saturday 12 January 2013

The New Portsmouth Network - Part 3

The new Portsmouth network has been in operation for nearly two months now. After the typical and expected angry response from passengers, along with slight bus allocation issues from First, many are seeing the merits of the new network.

* Increased frequencies across common corridors.
* Common types of bus allocated to most routes, meaning consistency is achieved.
* A PVR reduced across Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth of 7 buses.
* Great publicity across the internet and in travel shops.
* Effective and efficient evening connections between routes 2, 3 and 7, meaning that evening services are preserved but at a lower bus demand.

However, there are a few next steps found across the network that First could put into place in their next network review.

* The great connections are not always made clear in the timetables, and there have been reports of bus drivers not having any connections that they have to meet being written on their schedule. Addressing these two points could make the connections even better.
* Small buses on the X9 suffer in peak times, but the small buses are necessary because of Purbrook, Denmead and Hambledon. An interesting issue to address. With Stagecoach moving off the M275 this week, loads could grow even more on the X9.
* Darts keep on appearing on the 1, 2 and 7 from Hilsea. First have a desire to change this when buses become available. The 7 also sees capacity problems at some times with students from South Downs College.
* The conundrum of route 0 - between Fratton, Cosham and QA Hospital, and further into the future with Tipner P&R.
* Some route numbering could be adapted - this is mainly a Fareham/Gosport concern for routes such as the 6 and 9.

First say a statement is being released shortly, so it will be interesting to see what happens!

For the enthusiast, I've found the changes to be wholly positive so far. There are more regular corridors of service, meaning that if you're just going for a few hours you get more photos. Common frequencies aren't down either, as the 2, 3 and 7 have increased in frequency based on their old routes. Despite some routes being withdrawn, the other more profitable routes see more buses. If you're planning a day trip, here are are some tips:
The Hard- routes 1, 2, 3, 3A, X4, 8, X9, 14, 15, 19, SC 20, SC 21, SC 700, SC Hoverbus - more buses and good for sunny photos any time of the year, if you photograph them either in Edinburgh Road or as they enter The Hard. Best time is about 1130 to 1330 at the mo.
Portsmouth City Centre- the worst location for pedestrian but the best location for buses. You see the 1, 2, 3, 3A, X4, 7, 8, X9, 13, 14, 15, 19 and all Stagecoach routes. The sun can be a pain but there are some excellent shots available.
South Parade Pier- fewer buses than before - you only get 12x route 1s an hour, 6x route 7s an hour, 2x SC route 20s an hour and 6x SC route 23s an hour. Still is probably the best aesthetically-pleasing location though!
Cosham- the same amount of buses previously - 2, 3, 3A, 7, 7C weekdays, 8, the new SC20 and SC 23 along with the town services of route 12 and 22. I recommend either Northern Parade after 1pm, or Highbury Buildings (just north of the railway station) for any time of the day.
QA Hospital North Entrance- a little goldmine of a location since the changes. You can photograph the 2, 3, 3A, X9, 12, 22 and SC 20, and it is absolutely fine for low winter sun around 1200-1400. My Solo and Vario posted above were taken here.

Thanks for reading - I hope you've found the posts interesting.


  1. I have great fun reading your blogs bus80d, I am a great bus enthusiast and enjoy taking my own photos.

    Taken over 200 now

  2. Yes, the X9 seems to be neither one thing nor the other. The old X42 gave Waterlooville faster buses to Commercial Road and the Hard, but sending the X9 around Stakes and Park Avenue has put paid to that - now, the X9 is no faster than the 8. The other disadvantage is that Hambledon and Denmead no longer have through buses to the centre of Cosham, which seemed to be a popular destination on the old 45/45A.
    I'm surprised that Stagecoach have diverted the 20 away from the M275 route - I thought there was a reasonable demand for fast buses between QA and the centre of Portsmouth, but I'm sure they know better than I do.

    1. As a visitor I would observe that a lot of the time gained by using the M275 is lost at the ridiculously phased traffic lights on Southampton Road at the Allaway Avenue junction. The lights often miss a phase for eastbound traffic - it's quite often queued back almost to the M275 and never all gets away.

  3. The question could be asked as to whether the withdrawal of the 20 from the motorway could lead to an increase of the X9 to a 20 or 15 minute frequency.

    Of course this would not be viable to run through to Denmead/Hambledon so what could it lead to?

    Is there a call for an "X7C"? During the college holidays running Gunwharf to QA for a third service per hour but on South Downs College days extending it to Purbrook Church and then across to the college?

    This would of course offer an option for students who are commuting to Gosport/Southsea and avoid needing to travel via Cosham and changing buses during the college off-peak. The students seem to feel like they got screwed over when the 53 running every 40 minutes became the 7C running every 30 minutes......

  4. You've posted some interesting ideas regarding the X9 - it certainly seems the route could change now the 20 has moved as one would presume all trade between QA Hospital and The Hard would move to the X9. I think the X7C or similar isn't a bad idea.

    Also I wonder if they may increase the frequency - First's 9 goes Fareham-Gosport so they could operate another 9 half hourly between Hambledon/Denmead, QA and Gunwharf with small buses, and an hourly X9 between Clarence Pier(?), The Hard, City Centre, M275, QA and simply down the A3 to Waterlooville, with big buses.

    It will be interesting to see what happens, if anything!

    1. Yes, that would be a sensible arrangement - and closer to what we had before the changes in November. From the passengers' point of view, it wasn't a good idea to combine a fast, big-bus service with a slow, small-bus service. I can see that it saved money - but maybe the sums would look different, now that there's a chance of attracting passengers who used to travel on Stagecoach 20.

  5. i was wondering bus80d if we might meet up at some point, as a fellow enthusiast, I would like to meet others

  6. Not at the mo I'm afraid, very busy. Apologies.