Thursday, 29 December 2011

Basingstoke's new Enviros

Stagecoach South have received some new Enviro200 single deckers for Basingstoke and Aldershot town services. There are 13 in total, with 5 going to Aldershot and 8 going to Basingstoke. Fleet numbers and registrations are:
Aldershot: 36431 - 36436 (GX61AYJ / L / M / N / O)
Basingstoke: 36437 - 36443 (GX61AYP / S / T / U / V / W / Y / Z)

Yesterday I managed to get to Basingstoke, and took some photos of the new Enviros.

36437 (GX61AYS) was numerically the first one that I managed to photograph. They have been purchased to upgrade route 3, a cross town service that runs every 10 minutes on Mondays - Saturdays.

Two of the new Enviros pass Basingstoke railway station every 10 minutes, and this location is where my photos are from. Here is 36439 (GX61AYU) having just loaded passengers on now heading for South Ham.

At least one Enviro is branded for Jazz 3 - the route they are to be allocated to. Here is 36440 (GX61AYV) loading passengers outside Basingstoke rail station and about to head for the bus station and East Popley.

Finally, here is 36443 (GX61AYZ) again standing outside Basingstoke rail station on route 3. I've left myself with two more to photograph which will keep interest in Basingstoke for the next time that I visit.

Will have to try and get Aldershot's 5 now!

For photos -
click here for all of my Basingstoke photos from yesterday
* click here for all of my photos of Basingstoke's Enviros

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


This is a simple post just advertising various forums I am part of that also cover the south coast. We welcome new members, whether you just have a passing interest in the company, or you are a regular spotter / photographer, to management in the companies.

The First Hants & Dorset bus forum - a friendly forum covering all of First Hants & Dorset - from Havant to Yeovil, Portsmouth to Exeter. We cover all the latest sightings, fleet developments and photographs and will be the place to be with upcoming BRT and Weymouth Olympic developments (hopefully!). Also cover other local companies, trains and ships...
Please note, due to spam, please contact me directly either by leaving a comment on this post or on the non-log in area on the forum to join. 

The Stagecoach South forum - an ever growing forum focusing on Stagecoach South, with correspondents all over the company reporting on local sightings and movements. We also have a Stagecoach South East section, which we would really like to expand, so can you be that person? We've just had one of our most popular months and hope to keep growing strongly over 2012.

Go South Coast forum - the place to be for news regarding Go South Coast, focusing on BlueStar, Wilts & Dorset, Damory, Southern Vectis and more. Also regular inputs from Bournemouth Transport, Velvet and Stagecoach. Again, you will have to contact one of the mods on the forum to join, due to spam.

And my Southern England Bus Photographs website - I've really pressed on with the updates now and online are First Hampshire/Dorset/Somerset & Avon/Bristol/Cymru/Berkshire & London, with First D&C being finished, along with Stagecoach South/South West/West/South Wales and more, BlueStar, W&D, SVOC, Yellow Buses and many more - lots of photos are now online.

Please contact me for any more information :-)

Thanks all

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Remembering Stagecoach on the A

As there are not many things happening during this precise week, between Christmas and New Year, I thought I'd remember Stagecoach's 3 and a bit years operating on Sunday's route A, between Eastleigh and Hedge End. This post is also dedicated to the regular driver on the Stagecoach A, who I'm going to leave unnamed at the mo, who helped with many of these photos! Thank you :-)

33027 - NDZ3017 - 21st March 2008
My first picture comes from one of the first weekends' of Stagecoach operation on route A, and shows two views of Dart SLF 33027, firstly in the sun at Mansbridge, followed by another view of the same bus at Hedge End superstores. 
The A took Stagecoach into land where they have not served for many a year and, to me at least, seemed quite a strange decision initially. Now it is sad they've disappeared, which mean my local SC services either are at Fareham (69) or Southampton (46).

33028 - NDZ3018 - 27th September 2009
Darts and Enviro200s were the main buses on the A - particularly 33027 and 33028, unbranded former Winchester Park & Ride buses. Here is 33028 at a very sunny Hedge End superstores in September 2009, heading back for Eastleigh.

18527 - GX06DYC - 2nd April 2010
Double deckers did not regularly feature on the A, although on Bank Holidays Stagecoach did tend to use the buses in case of extra high loads. Furthermore, on days where the Rose Bowl cricket ground had England matches, double decks were used. Here is 18527 freshly repainted and transferred to Winchester, following the delivery of new Scanias for Coastliner700.

18519 - GX06DXT - 20th March 2011
I'm not sure if 20th March did have any particular bank holiday associated with it, or whether this was just a one-off allocation (I can't remember), but here is Rivers branded Trident on route A at Hedge end, making a rare foray south. The Rivers Tridents are usually allocated to routes such as 64/65 to Guildford, or 69 to Fareham. Again, another shot not down to luck but thanks to the Sunday A's regular driver - much appreciated again!

Alas, the days of Stagecoach on the A are over and now First have control of the Sunday contract. With Stagecoach also venturing to Eastleigh on the C and E Sunday contracts during this time, and regularly covering the Rail Replacement services, Stagecoach could be back one day...

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish all of my readers a very
and I wish you all the best for the new year.

Thank you all for your kind support this year - whether you are a casual reader, or one of my followers who adds information to the posts through the comments they make. I don't post as often as I would like to, but I have no intention of giving up the blog and hope that 2012 is going to be an even better year.

Kind regards to all,

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes - 18th December

This week's Sunday lost scene comes from The Hard in 2003...

Dennis Dart 32430 - 404DCD - The Hard, Portsmouth - March 2003

Remember when the 21 was step entry Darts advertising a service to Sainsburys and air conditioning? Replaced in 2003 by the same back of Darts that operate on the 21 today, Farlington depot previously used former Hong-Kong step entry Dart / Pointers, in the old stripes livery.

The buses' last few months in service were just as I started to photograph buses. Indeed, their replacements, the 34445-54 batch of Transbus Dart SLFs, was my first "brand new" batch of buses I'd ever photographed. It was sad to see these ones go, but I'm glad I managed a few photos before they went away for good.

Just to let all viewers know that my Stagecoach South collection on my smugmug site is now nearing completion - feel free to have a look for more trips down memory lane!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Seaton - Bridport 152

To continue with the Lyme Regis theme, today's post returns to the summer of 2006. In 2006, Stagecoach Devon ran a competitive service against First's X53 from Seaton to West Bay, via Lyme Regis, Charmouth and Bridport, predominantly using Mercedes-Benz Vario minibuses.

Stagecoach Devon 42102 - R102NTA - Lyme Regis - 27th July 2006

The 152 was an extension to Stagecoach Devon's hourly 52A to Seaton, connecting at Seaton to form a link into Dorset. I believe the service was a commercial venture, using one bus. For-seeing that this service may be a one off, I managed to photograph a working in the summer of 2006 and I've also saved the timetable:

For a full size copy, please email me. The 152 seemed to take good loads during the summer, but without a lot of publicity and against the X53 it was unlikely to take off. However, it was a lovely little venture from an enthusiast point of view - it brought Stagecoach Devon into Dorset, and allowed me to photograph my first ever SCD bus.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dirty Damory

The new order on the Lyme Regis town service are Damory Optare Solos, since the contract was won from First earlier on this year.

Damory 3708 - MX07NSV - Lyme Regis (post office)

The 71 was taken over by First in the summer of 2004, with a slimline Solo that was new as a demonstrator. Branded as connecting the Jurassic Coast, it was part of the big push with the arrival of the X53 Scania Omnidekkas, and the rebrand of the Dart SLFs from Southern National green and cream into First Barbie livery. 

Damory took over this year, and I've managed to get to the Dorset town to picture the bus. It was a little disappointing to see in terms of presentation, but in terms of time-keeping it was excellent, and the driver seemed very professional and welcoming to the locals. Damory haven't really upgraded the service - although I suppose the Solo is two years younger, yes. 

It seems a shame that First did lose this route as they are so strong in this area of Dorset - at least in terms of fleet presentation, age of bus, and, during the winter at least, time keeping and reliability. They've even outstationed a "thunderbird" bus at Bridport for emergencies. Still, in another world, Yellow Buses Geminis would have been serving Lyme Regis once an hour on the 31... An excellent service from First for what it is worth though.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes - 11th December

My Sunday Lost Scenes from this week is a memory from Lyme Regis...

First Hants & Dorset 817 - S817KPR - Lyme Regis - 2nd August 2003

In 1997-8, Southern National replaced the Bristol VRs on the Weymouth - Taunton route 31 with Dennis Dart SLFs. It was also split into two, and shared between Weymouth and Taunton depots - with Taunton operating Taunton-Axminster as route 30, and Weymouth operating Axminster-Weymouth as route 31. S817-23KPR took over the reigns.

My scene this week comes from Lyme Regis in 2003, with 817 (S817KPR) wearing it's original livery, with some First changes. 2003 was the last summer that Darts operated this service in green, before they were all given a repaint and rebrand into First livery. I always liked this livery - it fitted the lines of the Dart's body well, and, despite quite a dated livery, always appeared quite modern to me. 

The Darts are still all in service from Weymouth and Bridport, but often allocated onto town services. However, last year, I did catch S817KPR slipping back onto the 31, which brought back a few memories :-) It has also gained an LED display, and has seen it's second repaint since green and cream - she does look very smart but it isn't as appealing as Southern National colours. Pictured at Axminster rail station.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bude - Plymouth since 2004

The route connecting the north Cornish town of Bude to the Devonian city of Plymouth is a route that I am very familiar with, having been the first ever First Devon & Cornwall route that I photographed. It has change a lot since my first photo back on 2nd August 2004...

August 2004
First Devon & Cornwall used branded Dennis Javelins on the then X8 back in 2004. There were 5 Javelins if I remember correctly, which wore branding for both the X8 to Plymouth from Bude, and the X9 to Exeter. They were part of First's Excel branding associated with cross-county routes of the time. Pictured first is 21098 (R298AYB), arriving in Bude on the mid-afternoon X8.

August 2005
Even in 2004, former First Glasgow and First York Volvo B10Ms were creeping onto the X8 and X9, and here is former Glasgow 66584 (F384FYS) arriving in a very wet Bude in summer 2005. The X8 and X9 were the last routes where these fine buses saw regular service, with the last being withdrawn in 2006 (I think).

August 2006
After the B10Ms were withdrawn, the X8 became a bit of a free-for-all. The mid-afternoon Plymouth arrival was also always operated by Plymouth depot so anything could turn up. Here is Leyland Olympian 34753 (A753VAF) - I can remember many a long sunny afternoon longing for one of these beasts to turn up! The X8 at this point had a PVR of 3, with Bude operating one (usually a coach), and Plymouth operating 2 (usually anything) - and there was a regular Saturday morning departure that was always a double decker.

August 2007
In 2007, the X8 was taken out of the no defunct Excel brand and placed as a normal extension of route 76 to Callington, numbered the 76A. Furthermore, all operations were covered by Plymouth depot - hence the appearance of former National Express Volvo Olympian 34198 (UKT552).

April 2008
Within less than a year, the rather random allocation on the 76/76A calmed down, and Volvo B6BLEs became the regular bus type due to the tachographs that were fitted to these buses. These were new in 2002, diverted from York to initally operate the Corlink route 55 from St Austell to Padstow. Here is 48273 (YG02DLV) pulling up to the stand ready to depart for Plymouth. I say these were the regular allocations... the next departure (2 hours later) was a Vario...

August 2010
I returned in 2010 to find a new operator on the route. Western Greyhound had taken over, with super long Solos now operating Bude to Plymouth as the 576. The departure times were relatively the same. The First 76 was cut back to Callington, although a few peak journeys still make it to Launceston. Plymouth depot now no longer operate into Bude, and since the changes, a lot of the variety has disappeared too.

Well, the route has also changed since 2010. Western Greyhound now operate two Mercedes-Benz Citaro single deckers out of Bude depot, and at least one of these can usually be found on the 576 (the other one is usually on the 599 to Exeter). Whenever I return to Bude, I hope to be able to update this post with a Citaro heading for Plymouth.

Many thanks for viewing.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes - 4th December

My Sunday Lost Scenes from this week is a scene from earlier this year...

Shamrock were an operator in Dorset earlier this year, which operated a moderately-sized fleet mainly on contract services - be it tendered service work, school services, shopping contracts and more. Unfortunately, they went into administration earlier this year and had to cease trading, meaning their assets were sold on. Therefore, many bus operators have bought ex-Shamrock stock.

This photo comes from Poole on 19th March this year, with Shamrock Dart 213 (P262NRH) entering the bus station on a 32 from Merley. I quite liked Shamrock - I'm not usually the biggest fan of independents (don't know why) but something about the orange took my interest and I photographed ever bus I could. It is a shame they no longer operate, but here is my lost scene from which to remember the company.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Hoeford Leyland Olympian Heyday

My first post for a while reminisces back to 2006, when Hoeford depot operated no less than 5 Leyland Olympians. They were all second hand and had seen a lot of service elsewhere in First, but were proper buses and popular among enthusiasts at least. It also marked a turn away from the previous Hoeford policy of only needing one double decker - for years VR LWU471V had been the only double decker, and now that had been replaced and 5 deckers were in service...

The first to arrive was former PMT 30056 (A157UDM), arriving in 2005 and working alongside another former PMT DOG - MTU124Y, which was quickly withdrawn. This marked a time where First in the Potteries were jettisoning some of their elderly Olympians to work out their final years in the south - First Devon and Cornwall also received a number. 30056 is seen reversing off of a stand in Fareham bus station, working the West End circular to the college. Pictured on a sunny 25th August 2006.

Two former Western National Olympians were operated by Hoeford. These were A756VAF and A757VAF, which had originally passed from First Badgerline to First Southampton's Portswood depot, before moving to Hoeford late in 2005. 34756 (A756VAF) is pictured in an autumnal Gosport bus station out of service and broken (hence the lean on the bus). It was later repaired and saw service until the Volvo Olympians took over in 2007.

The other in service at Hoeford was 34757 (A757VAF), which I remember catching on route 80 back in the summer in 2006. It was a fantastic bus - so fantastic that it's roof lives on as part of the roof on Weymouth's N528LHG, an open top Olympian that argued with a bridge in Southampton, and lost. 34757 is seen on premier route 86, in Gosport bus station on 23rd September 2006.

Two Olympians acquired late in the day proved to be some of the best. First up is former First Eastern National 34810 (C410HJN), which was replicated as a model by Exclusive First Editions, actually on route 34 with this blind set. I often wonder whether this photo provided the inspiration :-) ... pictured in Fareham bus station on 26th July 2006.

Finally, a second example acquired from First Eastern National was 34814 (C414HJN), which was the last Olympian in this series of photos withdrawn from service. 34814 is pictured on the wall in Fareham bus station. This, along with 34810, was transferred to Weymouth when the Volvo Olympians arrived in Hoeford, although 34814 was only withdrawn in the last couple of years. It was also treated to a repaint into the modern First colours.

Hoeford now operates 8 Olympians on last count - 
* former Stagecoach London examples P542/3HMP
* former Stagecoach Cambus examples P536 / 540 / 559 / 560 / 571 / 572 / 578EFL
... which is the highest number of double deckers at Hoeford since First took over. 

Thanks for viewing - sorry about the lack of blog entries recently, life has been very hectic!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes - 13th November

I've decided to put the date at the top of my "Sunday Lost Scenes" posts as I'm quite likely to lose count soon. Today's entry comes from the North Devon town of Lynton back in 2004...

First Somerset & Dorset 46731 - P631CGM - Lynton - 2nd August 2004

For many a long year, the north Devon arm of First Devon & Cornwall (First Red Bus) combined with Taunton's First Somerset & Avon depot to operate route 300. Route 300 was a Taunton or Minehead to Ilfracombe or Barnstaple service, operated by both companies crossing the Somerset and Devon border. It usually saw Dennis Darts - such as 46731 - which was a shame as this could have been marketed as a profitable summer long term route with the right buses.

Later on in 2004 First gave up the route, and it is now operated by two different operators that meet in Lynton. Filers operates Ilfracombe - Lynton section of the route, with Quantook operating the Lynton - Minehead section, using a rather lovely open top Scania Omnidekka. First no longer serve Lynton or Lynmouth, having given up the 309 / 310 at the same time, which means this picture is truly a lost scene.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Portswood Update

I paused in Portswood today for the first time in a good few months to survey the local bus scene. I'm very familiar with the bus scene in Portswood, having got to know it very well for the last 4 years.

Firstly, the buses on route 3 seem to have grown! Route 3 has been a haunt for the Dart SLFs for years now, but today 4 Volvo B7RLEs were out on the route, with 1 B10BLE and 1 Dart. Here is former West Yorkshire and Devon & Cornwall Volvo B7RLE 69245 (YJ07WFM), loading passengers in St Denys Road.

Further changes from First see the 7 (Southampton - Bassett Green) lose one bus an hour to become every 30 minutes. First's route into northern Southampton has really suffered as the Unilink network has grown so strongly. The U1 was at full standing capacity on numerous workings today, which was a Saturday. 

Staying with First's route 7, and the ex-London B7TLs seen have taken over from the ex-London Olympians. I didn't manage any photos but 32259 (I think) was out on the route today.

Furthermore, BlueStar's route 14 (Bitterne - Southampton via Mansbridge & Bassett Green) has been cut back to become the P1, connecting Southampton with Bassett Green at an hourly frequency. BlueStar's Solo 2603 (R603NFX) was doing the honours today.

Not any drastic changes but certainly different from the place I knew so well just a year ago!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes #8

This Sunday lost scenes is from Helston back in August 2005...

Truronian T32JCV is now in service with First Hants & Dorset at Hoeford depot, as First's 42232. First took over Truronian a few years ago, and inherited the fleet, predominantly consisting of Darts, Solos and a few old Olympians, alongside the coaching business. Two Darts now operate from Hoeford depot in Hampshire - T32JCV and sister T34JCV. Both have been repainted to First livery and also now have LED displays. The Truronian livery no longer exists, so I was very lucky to photograph this bus back six years ago.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Provincial's long lost Volvos

One of the good things about visiting Weston-super-Mare is that I get to catch up with the former First Provincial Volvo B10BLEs now in service from the depot.

My first few photos come from the W---EOW batch of Volvo B10BLEs new to Hilsea depot in 2000. The Volvo B10BLEs were bought to upgrade routes 40 and 41 (then Southsea - Wecock and Clanfield respectively), and were branded for the Overground network in 2003. 66172 (W372EOW) was one of a number of Volvo B10BLEs that received purple and green branding for Zip route 41, which then operated between The Hard and Clanfield. 66172 is pictured here arriving in Weston-super-Mare on route X25.

The Volvo B10BLEs were withdrawn late in 2004 when new Scania Omnicity single deckers arrived in the fleet, and most moved elsewhere. 5 moved to First Somerset & Avon, three initially for route 28 (Minehead to Taunton) where they were fitted with extra luggage racks. These can be seen here in the offside of 66173 (W373EOW), a Volvo B10BLE that also once wore Zip41 branding.

Two Volvos went straight to Bath, for use on the X4/X5 between Bath, Warminster, Trowbridge and Salisbury. 66174 (W374EOW)  was one of these buses, and is pictured here in Weston on the premier town service - route 7.
In 2009, a further 5 Volvo B10BLEs joined First Somerset & Avon from Hampshire. These were transferred following deliveries of new Volvo B7RLEs - again to route 40/41 - which saw the Scanias that replaced the W***EOW Volvos cascaded to Hoeford. 66160 (S360XCR) was one of the buses cascaded to Somerset, and is pictured at Weston-super-Mare rail station yesterday, loading passengers for the 126 to Wells.

First Bristol initially received a number of Volvo B10BLEs from Hampshire, such as 66159 (S359XCR). She is pictured in Bristol city centre in May 2010 on city service 6.

How nice when things go round in circles? 66163 (S363XCR) was transferred to Taunton, to bolster the number of full size single deck buses for the 28. It still wears the livery it was delivered in, back in 2008. 66163 also has remnants of Green Line 40 branding on top of the windows, which can still be seen if you inspect closely. It pictured departing for Minehead last April.

Ex-Provincial Volvo B10BLEs can also be found in service in Manchester (5 ex-Sheffield buses that were once branded for the 17/18 in Portsmouth) and First Eastern Counties (more W reg Volvos once used on the 31 in Dorset). Maybe I'll be able to catch up with them one day.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

First sight of a Reading Omnidekka

Solent Blue Line are receiving 14 five-year-old Scania Omnidekkas from Reading Buses at present. The majority are going into a purple livery branded "Simply Go", which see Go South Coast taking over the services for Alton College. However, three will go in to service branded for the BlueStar network, and the first one ready was out today...

In a dark, damp Fair Oak, Scania Omnidekka 1013 (YN06JWG) arrived this afternoon on route 2 from Southampton. It is the first Omnidekka out in service and looks very impressive. She does not yet have the stars on the rear - time will tell whether these will be applied to what has not become BlueStar's second youngest double decker. Incidentally, BlueStar's first and third youngest deckers - Enviro400 858 and fellow Omnidekka 1035 - were also out in use on route 2 today.

This was formerly Reading Buses 823, and although I didn't manage to capture it in service then, I do have sisters 819, 820 and 824 - Solent Blue Line now also own 820. Here is Reading Buses 824 (YN06JWP) pictured in the same livery that 823 arrived in a couple of months ago.

Hopefully I'll be able to capture the Alton ones over the coming days - news from GSC forum is that one of the Omnidekkas will have to work the Sunday BlueStar 5 due to a low bridge - whether this will happen or not has not yet been confirmed.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Route 126 Weston - Wells

One of an ever decreasing number of routes to remained unchanged since the takeover of big national companies is the 126, connecting Weston-super-Mare with Wells in Somerset hourly. The route is operated by First Somerset and Avon - previously Badgerline.

The 126 is the route that I consider to by "my" Somerset route. When I was younger, I stayed in Cheddar for a few days. The 126 was the main route that served Cheddar, back then using Leyland Lynx buses. Pictured around May 2003, here are firstly 1645 (H645YHT) and secondly 1610 (F610RTC), both pictured in Cheddar village. As illustrated, First Badgerline decided to brand these buses for the 126 in 2003, and the branding is new in these two images. Back then the depot was "Weston and Wells", and the depot allocation code was WM - as illustrated by both buses' fleet numbers.

Today was the first time I have photographed route 126 since May 2003. Today, the usual allocation are Volvo B10BLEs - usually a mix of former Provincial buses - so therefore buses I know well and another reason I can associate myself with the route. Pictured to the right is former Hilsea and Hoeford based Volvo B10BLE 66160 (S360XCR), a bus that I last photographed at Southsea's South Parade Pier in 2008.

Between the Lynxes and the Volvos, Dennis Darts and Dennis Lances ran the 126, so 46603 (L503VHU)'s appearance on the route today is a helpful "transition" image. An appearance of a Dart on the 126 is rare these days, especially as only two step entry single deck buses are now in service from Weston-super-Mare's allocation.

I had a great day in Weston today taking photos - I'll post some more to the blog over the coming days. For late October, the sun didn't play me up half as bad as I had expected.

Monday, 24 October 2011

First day of the BlueStar 5

BlueStar 5 took off today, replacing the existing Wilts & Dorset service connecting Romsey and Eastleigh. We predicted that the service would be operated by Dennis Tridents from Eastleigh depot, and we were half right...

On the first ever BlueStar 5 was Volvo B7TL 787 (HX51ZRK) standing here looking very smart in Romsey bus station. These vehicles certainly are impressive in appearance, and it felt the service had received a definite upgrade over the existing Volvo Olympians used on the 65, although the coach seats of those Olympians are very nice. There was no timetable up in the stand, and the bus stop still advertised route 65 but I've been informed the taxi office were giving out timetable booklets.

Dennis Trident 779 (T749JPO) was also out on route 5 today on the second working. These Tridents have all recently been repainted into the darker blue livery, and all except 772 have recieved dot matrix or hanover displays. Tridents are notoriously hard to find to photograph - used on the odd route 2, 3 or 18, but mainly on Barton Peveril routes - so it is good we can now add the 5 to this list.

All round an good service - the BlueStar 5 was the only route running to time today, and when the bus stop information is updated we'll see a fantastically presented route.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday Lost Scenes #7

A scene only lost very recently today...

First Hants & Dorset have lost the contract to operate a route between Hamble and Hedge End, with the service passing to Brijan tomorrow. Yesterday was the last day of the route 26 extension to Hamble, which saw 4 Solos brought in from First Devon & Cornwall to reflect the improvements to the service. 53013 (W813PAF) is one of those Solos, which is pictured standing in Hamble on one of the last 26s yesterday. 

Brijan are taking over the route, and operating it as a loop from Hedge End. It will depart Hedge End, travel to Hamble via Lowford, then onto Butlocks Heath, Netley and then returning to Hedge End via Lowford. 

The route change sees First Hants & Dorset's Hoeford depot lose Hamble from the network. It has only been part of the network for a very short amount of of time - Hamble was last operated to from Hoeford in People's Provincial days. There is also no longer a direct link by bus from Hamble - Fareham, but one would think this hasn't inconvenienced too many passengers as the route needs to be tendered. Maybe a direct route - such as route 57 extending from Warsash via Sarisbury Green, Lowford, and down to Hamble, would be the most likely profitable route.

It will be interesting to see what Brijan use on the route tomorrow!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

BlueStar changes

It has been on the cards ever since Go South Coast took over Solent Blue Line, but from 23rd October, BlueStar will take over the Eastleigh - Romsey route from Wilts & Dorset. The old route 65 will now become the newest BlueStar route - BlueStar 5 - and continue to operate in a similar way to the 65 does at the moment.

Here's is a jpeg of the BlueStar route 5 timetable taken off of the website - and as can be seen the service remains largely similar to now-a-days, albeit the timings are altered and the route will now be run from Eastleigh. I am expecting Dennis Tridents in the weekday - especially when Barton Peveril college is open - as BlueStar have to honour their low floor guarantee.  However, in the holidays Solos or Darts may take over - we will have to wait and see. Nothing has been confirmed by the company yet.

This will mean an end to one of the most reliable routes to find an ex-Southern Vectis Olympian on though, which will be a shame. Presumably the Olympians will move back to Salisbury, concentrate on the 183/184 and cascade some of the older Olympians to Damory, or the coach fleet or similar. Olympians such as 752 (R752GDL) will venture into Hampshire less and less.

This will also mean an end to Wilts & Dorset buses in service in Eastleigh bus station - although an early morning college service from Romsey - West Wellow and back is to be operated by Wilts & Dorset on route 5. 

What will be interesting is the Saturday route 34 connections. The timetable says there is a "direct service" - whether this means buses meeting in Romsey bus station guaranteeing a connection, or BlueStar bus heading off up into Wiltshire on route 34, remains to be confirmed. 

Other changes - my old favourite BlueStar 6 - the 56/56A until earlier this year - is being cut to hourly Lymington - Rushington, then half hourly onwards. Maybe this route will be one of the growing trend of routes that has its frequency re-doubled during the summer months - having seen the loads in January earlier this year on the 56/56A, I can completely understand GSC's decision... The 10/11 is being cut to half hourly Southampton - Totton, with only hourly alternating extensions to Cadnam... and the Sunday 8 is being cut... the E1 is being cut back to Eastleigh - Boyatt Wood half hourly and only hourly onto Winchester... the F dropped altogether... the 14 cut back to Bassett Green and renumbered the P1 - presumably for Portswood 1. Maybe the service would be used better if they livered up a Solo in Unilink livery and operated it as the U4 or something and ran it via the Unilink interchange... I don't know. That's why I'm not a bus company manager!

With these times in recession and winter drawing in, I can only hope spring breathes new life into bus services across the region.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Ryde Depot

Southern Vectis have not used Ryde bus depot for operational services for a while now, but it is still used as a centre for the coach fleet and still stores a large number of buses on the island. For the first time in a couple of years, I nipped down to the depot to take a few photos of what was there on Saturday. All views were taken from the public footpath.

First thing of note, is that Ryde depot has become London General's Isle of Wight outstation! A large number of the PVLs are stored here - some still have the boards for the Isle of Wight festival. In view in these two pictures are the following: W905WGH, W508WGH, Y704TGH, X572EGK, X573EGK plus another 5 examples at least. Marc M-H has said that 2 of them will become Southern Vectis fleet vehicles in the future to increase capacity on route 9 (Ryde - Newport) - these will of course fit in very well along Southern Vectis' native Volvo B7TLs with Plaxton bodywork, that arrived new in 2002.

Here is an overview of Ryde depot showing most of the buses and coaches stored. Southern Vectis allocate most of their Solos to school work - so therefore they are part of the coach fleet. This is why green livered Solo 2615 (R615NFX) is at Ryde depot.

Finally I thought I would post a close up of one of the coach liveries - here is 598 (VUV246) in Fountain Coaches livery parked out of service. I hope these photos have been of interest - thanks for viewing.