Friday 26 July 2013

First serving Salisbury... again

First in Avon & Bristol have announced that they will be re-entering the Salisbury bus market, with their brand new extended route 265...

The 265 sees First return to Salisbury for the first time since 2008, when the joint X4 service with Wilts & Dorset was withdrawn, and First cut back their part to Warminster as the 264/265 route. Bodmans took over the X4, operating between Warminster and Salisbury. From 28th July, First will have a larger presence in Salisbury than ever before, operating hourly into the city as early as an 0718 arrival from Warminster - the earliest from Bath arriving just after 10 o'clock. 

The existing buses on the 265 are Volvo B7RLEs new in 2005-6. 66939 (WX55TZA) illustrates this batch perfectly as it leaves Trowbridge for Warminster in March of last year. With brand new Streetlites being introduced onto the X39 (Bristol - Bath), this should free a few more Volvo B7RLEs to operate on this service. Bath depot has also just repainted their first B7RLE into the new colours - sister 66943. 

I wish First well on this service - a route that competes against its own train service from First Great Western from Salisbury to Bath. In addition, this service is being introduced against the background of cuts across the former First Somerset & Avon district, with Bridgwater town services decimated, frequencies withdrawn in Wells, and more. 

For enthusiasts unfamiliar to Salisbury, the best locations to photograph the 265 for the sun would be:
* entering the city via the railway station along Fisherton St - in the morning there are lovely backdrops.
* in the city centre along Blue Boar Row
* entering the bus station mainly around early afternoon
* departing along Brown St late afternoon, but before the bus turns left down New Canal. 
This is assuming the route follows the same course as the existing Bodmans' service.

I'd even like to contemplate that in the future the 265 Bath - Salisbury, which was the X4, may be connected to First Hants & Dorset's X4 from Southampton - Portsmouth. Now there would be a long bus route! 


  1. I can get a bus to Salisbury but it would take too long to travel to Bath.

    Great photos and info

  2. It was Wilts & Dorset who decided that the Bath to Salisbury service wasn't commercial for them as far as I can remember. At that time First stepped in to replace the W&D journeys on the Bath to Warminster section whilst Wilts' initially won a short term Wiltshire Council tender to provide the Warminster to Salisbury service as the 24.

    When a substantive long term tender was awarded, it was Bodmans who were awarded it from their Worton base. In more recent times I believe the majority of journeys have run from their Old Sarum base a couple of miles north of Salisbury, where the Salisbury P&R buses live.

    First have presumably picked up some guaranteed school and college movements to make them consider running commercially.

  3. First have picked up no extras other then closing two outstations and moving then too Westbury, the 265s are all ran by westbury I believe also the sunday service from Bath - Trowbridge is now every hour.

    I believe first took the route commercially because Hatts/Bodmins wasn't intrested in it any more, also hatts/bodmin have lost bus work in devizes and also warminster

  4. I think its great they have taken over the service between Warminster and Salisbury meaning passengers can go straight between Bath and Salisbury without changing. Its a shame First don't do the same with the 158 service between Wincanton and Shaftesbury and connect it with their 58/58A service to Yeovil like they used to run it. Now passengers have to change at Wincanton to get to Yeovil. The 158 is now run by South West Coaches which aren't the most reliable.

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