Sunday, 27 February 2011

Today's the Day...

Today, three of the south's key Go South Coast services are changing. I hope to photograph all of these changes in the next two weeks.

Firstly, BlueStar's route 18, which connects Millbrook to Thornhill is increasing to every 7 or 8 minutes - that is 8 buses an hour. The 18 is BlueStar's key Southampton City route, and competes against 6 an hour buses to Millbrook on First's 17/17A, and 9 buses to Thornhill an hour, against First's 9/9A/10/10A. They've also bought in four new DAF single deckers to operate the service, much like 563 (YG52CMF) illustrated to the left, in the new darker blue livery.

Route 56/56A connecting Lymington to Southampton also passes from Wilts & Dorset to BlueStar today, in the form of BlueStar 6. Initial sightings seem to suggest the route will feature Dart MPDs, Solos and DAF/Optare Spectras - 2 Dart MPDs along with 2 blue Solos and Blue Spectra 3162 are at Lymington for the service.

Finally, routes 5/6/95/96, connecting Salisbury to Swindon, will be route X5 from today. The route will operate half hourly from Salisbury to Durrington, extending hourly to Swindon, continuing to see Scania Omnicity double deckers as the primary type of bus allocated to the route. Interesting times ahead, and lots of new photo opportunities aroung the Go South Coast network.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Present day Yeovil

With the majority of First Somerset & Avon services in Yeovil passing over to First Hants & Dorset in April, I decided to visit Yeovil on Tuesday. I've already posted the non-First photos, so here are the First photos, and the state of affairs in Yeovil as we stand.

5 Optare Solos operate from Yeovil depot and are usually allocated to town route 1. One of 4 such examples that originated with First PMT is 40006 (T159BBF), pictured in Yeovil bus station. These are expected to be passed over to FHD in April.

Route 57 has been registered by First Hants & Dorset and will continue to operate after the changes. What will operate the route is open to debate - 46226 (N226KAE) is illustrative of the usual allocation on route 57 today.

Route 4 is to be withdrawn in April - at present just a stop-gap for the bus allocated to route 52 or short route 58s. Former London Buslines 46729 (P629CGM) is pictured in Yeovil bus station on Tuesday.

Yeovil depot operate on Dart SLF with Marshall bodywork - fleetnumber 41129 (P129NLW), pictured here on town route 2. Route 2 and 3 interwork and operate at a frequency of every half hour each.

Long after Weymouth got rid of their last Mercedes-Benz 811D, the FHD may soon acquire another - 51212 (L652CJT). The 33 seat minibus is heading back to Yeovil depot having arrived on a 54B from Taunton earlier that morning. The 54B will be withdrawn after the April changes.

Two Mercedes-Benz 711Ds operate from Yeovil depot at the moment, usually on town services 2 and 3. 51745 (P445KYC) is pictured at Yeovil Borough, in the town centre.

Wells operate into Yeovil on route 377. Route 377 connects with route 376, which operates half hourly from Wells to Bristol. it is usually operated by very new Volvo B7RLEs with Wright Eclipse Urban mark 2 bodywork, as illustrated to 69435 (WX59BYM), pictured arriving into Yeovil along Central Road. However, sometimes Wells operate Volvo B10BLEs or Dennis Darts on route 377, illustrated in the second photo by B10BLE 66107 (R907BOU) heading back to Wells. After the April changes, it is expected FHD will outstation one FSA bus for the early morning route 377 departures.
Route 54, connecting Taunton to Yeovil, will pass fully to Taunton depot after April. Four Volvo B7RLEs will be allocated to the route, with 2 possibly outstationed in Yeovil. However, to the travelling public, there will be few changes that will be obvious, although a more varied allocation on route 54 is expected. Illustrating that more varied route allocation is Volvo B7L 60913 (YG02DLY), which visited Yeovil from Taunton on Tuesday.

The changes have now been confirmed by various sources within First.
* Route 1, 2, 3, 52, 57 and 58 will pass from First Somerset & Avon to First Hants & Dorset.
* Route 4 and some journeys on the other routes, along with Sunday services, will be withdrawn. Sunday services may be reregistered under other routes - this hasn't been confirmed yet.
* Route 54 will pass to Taunton but with two Volvo B7RLEs outstationed at Yeovil
* Route 377 will continue as before, with one bus outstationed in Yeovil.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Yeovil trip - non-First bits!

Yesterday, I visited Yeovil in Somerset in an attempt to get the First Somerset & Avon fleet in service from Yeovil before the changes in April. I'll post the First bits and bobs tomorrow, but for now I thought I'd focus on the other bus companies.

First up at Stagecoach's operations - the remnants of the former Cooks Coaches bus network. Stagecoach South West now only operate into Yeovil on route 99/99A from Chard and Taunton, using a fleet of these 2009 registered Optare Veras. Carrying Connect branding, here is 25251 (WA09KWH).

Go South Coast also operate into Yeovil on a couple of Damory routes. The 368 connects Yeovil to Blandford, and in turn Wilts & Dorset service X8 which continues to Poole. 2636 (T636AJT) was new to Wilts & Dorset, and is pictured carrying the latest version of the Damory livery.

South West Coaches are the largest independent operator in service in Yeovil, and their fleet is a mix of smart silver buses and slightly worn white coaches. Here is one of the former - MAN/MCV Stirling CU04AMK, arriving in Yeovil on route 81.
I'm not really sure if route 1 (Yeovil - Shepton Mallet) has a regular bus allocation, because during my visit the departures were a Solo, a Versa, a Volvo B10M coach and this, a Volvo B10M/Alexander Strider, registered N506HWY.

Last year, South West Coaches reintroduced the weekday bus link between Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill stations in the form of route 68. It is operated by two Solo - YJ10MGY has been acquired specifically for the route. It is £3.30 from Yeovil Junction to the town centre return, or £2 single, which I think is decent value considering the only other alternative is private transport or taxi. The Solos also cope well in terms of passenger loads and hills - whether something bigger is needed with the peak time train arrivals I do not know. YJ10MGY is pictured in Yeovil Junction train station car park.

Finally, here's one South West Coaches' Optare Versas in use on route 81. The cloudy conditions on offer yesterday don't really do justice to the brightness of the livery on YJ08PGZ, or the route branding. It is pictured in Yeovil town centre (Yeovil Borough).

I shall be posting First photos and a report tomorrow, including what services FHD will operate in the town from 17th April. FSA have confirmed the cuts on their website. Thanks for viewing.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Bognor Regis Today

One of my aims for this year was to return to Bognor Regis, a place I haven't visited since 2005 and has undergone major changes to its bus services. Today I returned, and managed to get some good photos.

Back in 2005, route 700 was operated using Volvo Olympians and Volvo B10M single deckers. Today, Scania N230UD with ADL Enviro400 bodywork operate the main route between Southsea and Brighton. Here is 15597 (GX10HBF) today, one of a number I managed to photograph.
The most recent change to Bognor bus services and the 700 is the introduction of these Enviro300 single deckers, which operate the shorter Chichester to Brighton and Arundel to Brighton journeys. They carry single deck versions of the larger Coastliner 700 branding, still focusing on a particular place the route serves. These also carry (Arundel) along the top of the bus to advertise those variations of the route. Pictured first is 27652 (GX10KZE) heading for Brighton, with a photo of 27658 (GX10KZL) heading the other way, towards Chichester, underneath.

Route 60 operates between Bognor Regis and Midhurst/Summersdale, using primarily a mix of second hand Dennis Tridents - this one is former Stagecoach Manchester 18193 (MX54LRA) - or second hand Dennis Darts. As illustrated, they carry a 60s-inspired Hippie livery for the route.

Route 60 operates every 15minutes between Bognor and Chichester, interworking with route 700 to provide a bus to Chichester every 7 or 8 minutes. The 60s split at Chichester, with a half-hour frequency to Midhurst, usually operated by double deckers, and a half-hour frequency to Summersdale, usually operated by former Sunderland and Oxford Dennis Dart SLFs. To the right are two of the slightly rarer allocation on route 60 - a single deck working on the 60 to Midhurst in the form of Dennis Dart SLF 33040 (P466AYJ), and secondly former Manchester Volvo Olympian 16752 (R752DRJ).
Here is the regular allocation on the Summersdale workings - 33815 (R815YUD), one of 5 Dart SLFs that operate the route sporting a single deck version of the route 60 branding.

One of Chichester's shorter Dart SLFs tends to operate route 66/66A - this is former Stagecoach London 34107 (V107MVX) seen pausing between journeys. The 66/66A is an hourly-ish route that has a PVR of one - there is a bus every hour, but not the same minute of every hour!

I've been waiting a while to get some photos of the Bognor Stars Solos. The Solos formed part of the regeneration and rebranding of Bognor's town services. The 63 became Star 1 and the 61 became Star 2, upgraded from Mercedes-Benz 709D operation. Firstly, we see 47539 (GX57DKF) pausing in Bognor Regis town centre on a Star 1 to Bersted, with the second photo illustrating two Solos on the Bognor Stars routes - in the foreground 47536 (GX57DKA), on the Star 1 heading for Elmer, with 47541 in the background. The Star 1, Star 2 and 67 are all Bognor Regis town services which pass through the town between destinations. It seems to work really well in the town, and the Solos certainly suit the customer base.

Finally, back in 2006 I took a shot of three Mercedes-Benz 709Ds lined up on town services 61 and 63 in Bognor Regis town centre. This was mainly because I was unfamiliar with the Stagecoach Merc- Stagecoach in Portsmouth (my local company) didn't have any, and my closest examples where in Winchester. However, it has allowed me to visably illustrate how much the town services have changed since 2004 - the 3 Mercs are long gone, and the three Solos in the second photo have directly replaced them. I wonder how different Bognor will be in another 7 years time...

Related Posts:
Southern England Bus Scene - Bognor Regis in 2004
Transport Illustrated - Hants & Sussex Part 2

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Yeovil changes

Yeovil will become the latest addition to the First Hampshire & Dorset empire apparently, on the 17th April 2011. With all of the FSA routes cancelled in Yeovil, and new registrations on the town services only expected to be made by FHD, this marks a huge change in bus service for the people of Yeovil.

If we look at the First S&A Yeovil network at the mo:
1 - Town Service connecting Cavalier Way to Abbey Manor Park
2 - Town Service connecting Monks Dale to Lyde Road
3 - Town Service connecting Wessex Road and Lyde Road
4 - Town Service to Yeovil Borough
52 - Yeovil to Martlock
54 - Yeovil to Taunton
57 - Yeovil to Sherborne
58 - Yeovil to Wincanton & Shaftesbury
377 - Bristol - Wells - Yeovil

After the changes, we expect the 54 to be transferred entirely to Taunton with the Volvo B7RLEs going also. 66958 (WX55TZV) illustrates a working on route 54 last summer. Secondly, the 377 will continue to operate from Wells, meaning that FSA won't leave the town entirely.

It has been suggested that the 52, 57 and 58 will be cut from First's network without replacement - who picks these up (if they are picked up) is open to debate. It has been suggested the town services will be run from Yeovil but by FHD - with Yeovil depot reflecting what Bridport is to Weymouth. FHD of course have operated in Yeovil recently - on the 54P service on the RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day - so it won't be the first time. The 47 from Bridport also is operated by FHD's Bridport depot into Yeovil.

Interesting times ahead - Yeovil has come up to the top of my to-do list now.

* Please note; much of this page is what is expected to happen (speculation in reality!) - all that has happened is the FSA services cut on VOSA, with news coming out of various reliable sources FHD will takeover Yeovil depot as an outstation.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Stagecoach Versa in Bude

Stagecoach in Devon operate two routes into the north Cornish town of Bude - a very early morning route 85 journey from Bude to Barnstaple (via Holsworthy and Bideford), with an evening peak return, and summer Sunday only route 319, with two return journys from Barnstaple to Bude, via Bideford and Hartland. The 85 is usually operated by Dennis Dart SLFs, but the 319 often throws up something more interesting...

Last summer while I was on holiday, I managed to photograph the afternoon arrival of the 319 from Barnstaple. It was operated by Optare Versa 25258 (WA09KWP), one of four originally for Devon's route 380 (Axminster - Exeter) that were swapped for North Devon Darts. The 4 Versas tend to stay on route 308 (Barnstaple to Croyde), with some workings also on the 71/72 (Barnstaple to Torrington). However, due to the availability of 25258, it found its way to Bude. I'm not sure if the summer Sunday 319 is usually Versa operated or if this is a one off - but it certainly was a highlight of last year's holiday.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Mancs down South....

Many of the south's First companies operate former First Manchester Volvo B7RLE single deckers that have been cascaded down from the north. Below are some examples of their use in Wales, Cornwall, Dorset and Hampshire.

I'll start off locally. First Hampshire operate 6 Volvo B7RLEs that were new to Manchester in Southampton, primarilly on route 17/17A. Pictured here is 66885 (MX05CLF), pictured in Millbrook. These were directly acquired from FDC rather than Manchester.
Moving down the coast, First in Dorset operate 8 former Manchester Volvo B7RLEs on key town service 1 in Weymouth. Route 1 carrys most of the towns' trade, and these buses can be regularly packed out in the summer. Here is 69212 (MX06VPN) pictured at Weymouth's town bridge last autumn.

First in Cornwall operate a number of former Manchester B7RLEs on routes 14 and 18, connecting St Ives (14) and Penzance (18) with Camborne and Truro. Some carry branding for the route, as 69226 (MX56AET) illustrates, pictured in Truro town centre last summer.

First in Cymru operate a number on route X2, which connects Porthcrawl with Bridgend and Cardiff. These replaced native Cymru Darts on the route, and provide added comfort and capacity. Pictured to the right is 69235 (MX56AFJ), seen in Cardiff bus station during summer 09.

Monday, 14 February 2011

January's stats

2011 has been a good year for this blog so far - I've tried to give a spread of frequent-ish postings - 4 or so a week, and I think I've varied the topics well - comments welcome to whether you disagree or agree! Last week, posts were down but my other commitments that prevented photographs/posts last week have now been lifted.

January stats -
Total views - 3570 - up by over 1500 since November. I'm also now averaging over 100 visits per day consistently. Thank you for all of your support.
Most popular topics - Visit to Caerphilly (I may try and increase the Welsh posts), Winter in Ryde, BlueStar serving Lymington.
Most popular referring site - Plymothian Transit (again, thank you very much Graham); secondly my fotopic site.
Worldwide Audience - After Britain; USA, Latvia, Germany and Hong Kong were the most frequent visitors - thank you for your support. I really do appreciate it, and it makes operating such a blog very rewarding.

Finally, I finish on a photo of BlueStar's Dennis Dart SLF 3344 (HX51LPN), pictured in their Barton Park (Eastleigh) depot. This is the most popular photograph on my fotopic site at the mo, not sure why. I was really happy to get 3344 on camera last Saturday - apart from when I photographed it in its first week in service, it has avoided me ever since! Thanks for viewing.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Last June in Eastbourne

As I don't often cover the east of the region, I thought today's blog entry could include a number of photos from the my trip to Eastbourne last summer. Eastbourne Buses and the Cavendish operations had not been under the management of Stagecoach for very long, and although my visit was for only an hour and I had a dodgy camera which wouldn't photograph a moving bus, I had a good time getting some interesting shots. I was spending the day photographing buses in Brighton, having travelled down on one of Southern's class 377 trains. A 170 then took me further up the coast to Eastbourne, where I found the following... all photos taken on 4th June 2010.

First up, a reminder of the old. Here is Dennis Dart SLF/Marshall R772LHP still wearing the old Eastbourne Buses colours. Numbered 33315 in the Stagecoach scheme, here it heads out of Eastbourne town centre out of service. This bus now wears Stagecoach colours.

A few of the Marshall bodied Dart SLFs had received Stagecoach colours, as illustrated by 33317 (S46BVC) - another acquired from Eastbourne Buses. Here it is pictured heading for the town centre while operating route 10.

Even before the takeover, Stagecoach East Kent had a minor presence in the town, operating route 99 to Hastings. Here is Scania 15489 (GN09BBJ), branded for the Wave services 100, 101 and 102 rather than the 99 into Eastbourne.

My favourite modern single decker is the MAN 14.220/MCV Evolution as I think they look fantastic- and a bit different to the ordinary bus. I also don't have any in service anywhere round my way (middle of Southern Hampshire), so they are always a bit of a novelty when I manage to photograph them. Stagecoach in Eastbourne operate a number primarily on the "Loop" route in the town - illustrated here firstly by 39637 (AE06XRV) and secondly by 39640 (AE56LWD). Like many buses, they suit the Stagecoach livery in my opinion and both buses look fantastic in the June sunshine. Both are pictured on the Loop route, albeit heading in different directions along it. 

Stagecoach in East Kent transferred a number of Dennis Tridents with ALX400 bodywork in to Eastbourne following takeover of the two companies, after they were displaced by Enviro arrivals. Here is 18174 (GX54DVT), strangely on usually MAN operated Loop route.
Stagecoach's first major investment in Eastbourne were a number of Enviro300 saloons - bought in to operate main route 1. These buses displaced some of the existing fleet to neighbouring Stagecoach companies, and gave the company an immediate image, identity and symbol of investment in the town following takeover.
Finally for today, here is one more image of the past. This time it is Dennis Dart SLF 33318 (S835DPN), pictured out of service in Eastbourne's high street. 33318 carried an allover advert for a Vauxhall dealers - I believe this bus still operates in the town but it has been repainted into Stagecoach colours.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

BlueStar already serving Lymington

With the forthcoming switch of route 56/56A from Wilts & Dorset to BlueStar, I thought I'd take the oppurtunity to explore some BlueStar vehicles already hard at work in the small Hampshire town. I hope you don't mind another route 56 post - it serves many areas I enjoy visiting and photographing in.

First up is the BlueStar route already in service around Lymington. Two Volvo B7TLs operate on the summer only New Forest Tour, serving Beaulieu, Lyndhurst and Lymington, amongst other areas. Ironically, the  Volvo B7TLs were new to Wilts & Dorset at Lymington, and still carry the numbers as new - here is 408 (HF05GGO).

Solent Blue Line began operating this route as the 49 - then the 149 - using two Bristol VRs. UFX857S - then numbered 901 - was new to Hants & Dorset before passing over to sister company Southern Vectis. It ended back up within the company in 2003. She is pictured in August 2004, in Lymington high street.

Finally, Wilts & Dorset already operate a number of former BlueStar Olympians on routes around Lymington. Here is a photo of East Lancs bodied 766 (M736BBP); at one time named Solent Belle with Solent Blue Line. The Olympians tend to stay on the 56/56A, Brockenhurst college contracts and school routes - Lymington may have no service work for them when route 56 transfers over at the end of the month. Thanks for viewing - that should be it on the 56/56A for a couple of weeks at least!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Three weeks to go....

It is three weeks to go until route 56/56A (Lymington - Southampton) moves over from Wilts & Dorset to fellow Go Ahead company, BlueStar. With the bus stops displaying "Star Date 27.2.11" and the LED displays on the buses showing "BlueStar is Coming...!", I visited Lyndhurst to photograph W&D's operations on the 56/56A in their last days...

First to turn up today was former Southern Vectis Leyland Olympian 737 (K737ODL), one of the buses which will no longer operate on BlueStar 6 because of the low floor guarentee. Here she is, looking spotless despite the winter weather, heading for Lymington.

Next to turn up was Solo 2662 (V662DFX), pictured outside the Crown Hotel in Lyndhurst. I seem to capture this one on camera quite a lot these days, having photographed it in Lymington and Hythe on my last visits.

Two Solos are in use on the 56/56A today - here is the second. 2685 (V685FEL) is pictured having arrived in Lyndhurst from Southampton. When BlueStar take over on the 56/56A, Wilts & Dorset will not serve Lyndhurst for the first time in many a year.

My disappointing photo of the day was of DAF/Optare Spectra 3170 (Y199FEL). Unfortunately it didn't stop at the bus stop by the Crown Hotel, and weather conditions meant that it was very difficult for my to take moving shots. Ah well, one for the memories really, as 3170 heads for Southampton. 

Finally, the fifth bus on the 56/56A today was 3176 (HJ02WDK) - one I've never photographed before. It has been suggested that BlueStar 6 will interwork with the 10 and 11, meaning a PVR across all of the routes of 8 (if my calculations are correct!). This has not been confirmed yet though.