Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ringwood today

In my continuing quest to photograph buses in the towns of Southern Hampshire in, today I spent an hour in Ringwood. Ringwood is home to a Wilts & Dorset bus depot, also seeing Thompson's buses and weekday Damory service, along with Greyhound and NatEx coach services.

My number one target today was former Marchwood Motorways DAF/Ikarus 506 (T186AUA). 506 is usually allocated on the Bournemouth to Verwood route 36, and was again found on this route today. I featured sister 508 on this blog last week.

The main route in Ringwood is Wilts & Dorset's X3, which connects Bournemouth with Salisbury at a frequency of every 30 minutes during weekdays and Saturdays. The X3 is usually operated by Scania Omnicity double deckers, as illustrated here. Firstly, we see a view of 1120 (HF58GYZ) heading into Meeting House Lane heading for Bournemouth on the X3. In the second photo, 1123 (HF58GZC) is pictured turning into The Furlong at Ringwood, arriving from Bournemouth around lunchtime. These vehicles don't often see service on other routes, although unbranded 1118 sometimes operates the 36.

Three Solos are operated by Ringwood depot - native 2615 and two former Go North East examples - one of which is 2696 (NK54DEU). The Solos operate a mixture of routes 38 (to Ferndown) or 175/6 (to Christchurch), but sometimes one deputises for an Excel on the 36 - such as 2696 is doing in this photo. It is pictured loading passengers at Meeting House Lane.

Ringwood depot operates a lot of local school and college services, and therefore has an surprising amount of buses allocated to the depot for the ordinary services it operates. I counted 6 Leyland Olympians, and 3127 (L127ELJ), the last step-entry Spectra outside of Salisbury, is also allocated to Ringwood. In this view are also two Volvo B10Bs new to Solent Blue Line - I'm not sure what these are used for although I think it is specific school duties as well. The Leyland Olympians may sometimes be used on the 175 or 176, but this is also rare.

Finally, Thompson's also operate the 136/137 Ringwood - Poulner town service, using Excel P429AHR amongst other buses. Thompson's may cease operating this route in the near future - I know they've got a court hearing and there is a possibility the tender could go to another operator. Incidentally, Wilts & Dorset still display their timetable for the 136/137 even though they haven't operated it for nearly a year.

Sighting summary:
X3: Scanias 1119, 1120, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124
36: Solo 2696, DAF 506
38: Solo 2697
175/176: expected to be 2615
Leyland Olympian: 707 (unconfirmed), 713, 726, 728, 735, 741
DAF/Optare Spectra: 3127
Volvo B10B: 528, 526
Scania Omnicity: 1118

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

And Then There Was One...

In September 2008, First Hants & Dorset acquired 5 Volvo B10M with Alexander PS bodywork from First in Sheffield for use at Hoeford depot. They were transferred as Leyland Lynx replacements, and were the first of the type to be allocated at Hoeford depot.

I managed to get what I believe were the first photos of the Volvo B10Ms in Hampshire - here 60523 (H681THL) in the foreground and 60529 (H687THL) are parked in Portswood depot having just been transferred south. 60523 was withdrawn earlier on this year; 60529 is the only one to remain in service.

The only bus which I managed to photograph in service in the whole of their first year of service - 2009 - was 60522 (H680THL). My first photo of one of these in service is taken at Southsea's South Parade Pier, with 60522 heading for Fareham on low floor route 1A. My second photo on the blog, underneath, is also of 60522 on the 1A, but this time in Cosham, photographed in April 2010. These Volvo B10Ms had a knack of finding themselves on routes 1, 1A, 1C and 17 and 18 - both premier Hoeford routes - which was added a lot of interest. 60522 was withdrawn in late-2010.
60521 (H679THL) is numerically the first example that saw service in Hampshire. 60521 is seen on the 139 from Fareham to Waterlooville - a run that used to often be Volvo B10M operated as it ended up on the route 145 school service. 60521 was the first Volvo B10M withdrawn, back in August last year.

60524 (H682THL) was the last bus I managed to photograph - not until June 2010. It is pictured in the small village of Southwick, served by routes 38, 138 and 139 at infrequent intervals. 60524 heads for Cosham on a lovely summer day. 60524 was one of two Volvo B10Ms repainted in Hampshire prior to entering service - hence the black grills - where the others entered service in the livery received in. 60524 was withdrawn in late 2010 at the same time as 60522.

And the last one remaining in service... 60529. I don't know how long it will remain in service - possibly until the MOT expires, which means it is likely to go in 2011. You can still find the Volvo B10Ms on their regular routes - the 1, 17, 18 and 145 - so they would be my best bets if anyone wants any eleventh-hour photographs. So far, the Volvo B10Ms are being replaced internally by Volvo Olympians displaced off of lost contracts (Network Rail) or transferred from Southampton (34033).

It will be sad to see these go - BUT - two more are already in Hoeford, being prepared for service, from First Glasgow as late replacements/additions to the fleet from First Glasgow. They are 61397 (N129OGG) and 41472 (N984LSU)... we wait to see when they enter service in anticipation!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A Tributary of the Rivers

As discussed on a previous blog entry, Stagecoach in Hampshire operate the Sunday route A between Eastleigh and Hedge End. It always offers a rare photo opportunity - and Stagecoach buses in regular service well away from their usual routes.

Following a tip off from regular commentor "Dennis Dash", I popped up to Hedge End superstores on Sunday to photograph Rivers branded Trident 18519 (GX06DXT) operating on the A. 18519 is one of a number of former Coastliner 700 Tridents usually operating Winchester based country routes, such as the 76/86 to Andover and Basingstoke, the X64/X65 to Alton and Guildford, and my local, the 69 to Fareham.

Now, I like to think that 18519 technically isn't off its branded routes, as the A does run alongside the River Itchen in Mansbridge for a part of its journey. Therefore you are still going with the flow across Hampshire along the Rivers! This is the first time I've managed to photograph one of these Tridents branded up - due to a lack of effort rather than not being able to find one. I do think the branding is slightly unnecessary as it doesn't really give much information regarding the routes, and is used across such a wide area - Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire (when these go wandering on the Activ8 route from Andover). However, its just something a bit different and friendly, and makes the bus seem a little more special.

Related Posts:

Monday, 21 March 2011

Poole Report #3

My third and final entry from Poole - this time from Wilts & Dorset. Since my last visit, there haven't been many significant changes, although the Volvo B7TL double deckers have all received 2008 livery, and more More Volvo B7RLEs have received the new version of the branding.

I may as well start with the more routes - the m1 and m2 operate up to every 3 minutes between Poole and Bournemouth, operated by a variety of Volvo B7RLE and Mercedes-Benz Citaro single deckers. The Volvo B7RLEs are receiving an updated version of the branding livery at the moment - here are images of 103 (HF54HFR) in the old livery, and 111 (HF54HGA) in the second image, painted in the lighter blue livery. I'm not sure which one I like most - I like the blue of the latest image, but I think I the original livery suits the Volvo B7RLE better, not that my opinion matters much. Sister to these two, 101, is on the Isle of Wight at the mo.

Wilts & Dorset operate four of their 11 Volvo B7TL double deckers from Poole depot. These are usually found on the X8, 14 and 16. 403 (HF54KXV) arrives in Poole bus station on a trip from Bournemouth. A further 7 operate from Lymington, mainly on routes X1 and X2 to Bournemouth.

Damory operate a number of routes into Poole - the 152 is an hourly route operating to Rockley Park - transferred in recent years over from Wilts & Dorset. Former Marchwood Motorways DAF/Ikarus 508 (V710LWT) is pictured arriving in Poole.

Bournemouth University routes do not operate on a Sunday, which mean that Wilts & Dorset acquire 7 very young buses that can be used on its normal network. Wilts & Dorset  operate a Scania L94UB/Wright single decker - the only one in the fleet. 2101 (YT59SFJ) is pictured on the m6, arriving in Poole with the destination already set for the m5. Wilts & Dorset operate 6 Scania N230UD/Enviro400 double deckers on the uni routes - here 1501 (HF59FAA) arrives in Poole on an m5 (the destination is already set for the next journey on the m6).

A Scania Omnicity single decker is on loan to Wilts & Dorset in Poole at the moment - whether on evaluation purposes or simply on loan covering vehicle absences I'm not sure. YS10XBO seems to be rigidly allocated to the more routes at the moment, and is pictured entering Poole bus station. 

I couldn't post a series of Wilts & Dorset photos without including a Solo - here is 2644 (T644AJT) arriving in Poole on route 4. I like this photo as I've captured it with the bus apparently heading for Burley, near Ringwood, in the New Forest! The blind was changing as the photo was taken.

I still find it strange seeing these in the Wilts & Dorset 2008 livery - not sure why really as they are quite common since the X3 has moved to Scania Omnicity operation. With some rare bus spotter-friendly passengers upstairs, 3161 (W161RFX) arrives in Poole on an X8 from Blandford.

The only bus in the old livery that I saw on Saturday was 3167 (Y167FEL), pictured here arriving in Poole on route 14 from West Howe. The recently installed LED display means that this image looks rather odd (in my own opinion). 3167 can't be too far away from the paintshop now - I don't expect many (any?) buses to be left in this livery when we reach 2012.

To finish off, here is one of the sizeable batch of Optare Excel in use in Poole. The Excels predominantly on route 9, although they are frequently seen on routes m5 and m6, especially on weekdays. 3611 (HJ02WDF) was one of the Excels originally bought for the X4 from Salisbury to Bath if I remember correctly - here it is pictured entering Poole bus station.

Thanks for viewing my Poole postings - all comments welcome. If fotopic does come back I'll stick all of my photos (around 160) online - if it doesn't come back they may be a little longer!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Poole Report #2

Yellow Buses of Bournemouth are undergoing an ownership change at the moment. RATP have taken over from Transdev, and when I visited Poole yesterday, the buses were in the process of being rebranded.

Carrying the new Yellow Buses:RATP Group fleetnames, here is Volvo B7TL/Wright 181 (HF03ODV) arriving in Poole on a 1c. This bus has also received an interior refurbishment recently - Ant Poulton has posted some interior shots on the GSC forum for those interested.

Some of the Yellow Buses are still carrying the old Transdev fleetnames. Volvo B7TL 432 (HJ02HFC) is also a convertable open topper - although the roof has been permanently attached and therefore it will not open again.
The photo to the left is of similar Volvo B7TL 421 (HJ02HFE) although this one was always permanently closed, and illustrates that on some buses there are no fleetnames worn. This version of the livery will be kept for the forseeable future.

Routes 1b and 1c form a 10 minute frequency from Christchurch all the way to Poole, with the 1c extending from Christchurch to Somerford. The route is mainly operated by double decks - 185 (HF04JWG) is another Volvo B7TL and one of 5 Wright bodied examples used on the route.

Three single deck routes are operated by Yellow Buses into Poole - one such example is route 20 which operates to Castlepoint in Bournemouth. 475 (R475NPR) carries the new fleetnames as it arrives in Poole bus station.

One allocation a day on the 1b and 1c is a single decker, although I don't think it is supposed to be a Dart SLF. 480 (R480NPR) is pictured arriving in Poole on a 1b - and again carries the new RATP fleetnames.
Finally for today, here is my first photo of one Yellow Buses' VDL single deckers - this one is 501 (HF05LYU), pictured arriving in Poole bus station on a 26. These are very smart buses and suit the Yellow Buses livery well - athough most buses do. These VDLs only operate on route 26 at weekends when they are freed by a reduction in PVR compared to weekday needs. Thanks for viewing. Tomorrow, I'll Wilts & Dorset photos and observations from yesterday.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Poole Report #1

I visited Poole today - the first time since last June - and managed to capture nearly 200 photos and lots of buses on camera. The weather has been glorious. I'm going to make this a three stage report - mainly because a) it will keep blog entries regularly being written and b) I can post more of my photos with fotopic not working. First up is First's offerings from Poole.

First operate the two-hourly X53 into Poole from Weymouth. It is usually operated by branded Volvo B9TL double deckers, but today the 1120 arrival was former Manchester Volvo B7RLE 69212 (MX06VPN). Carrying a standing load on arrival, this shows that even spring X53s require the double deckers! 69212 fitted in well with Wilts & Dorset's own B7RLEs on the more routes.

I've found 69212 is the Volvo B7RLE I most frequently find when I'm down that area of the country - I've photographed it in Poole today, Weymouth on every trip, and in Charmouth on a 31 in summer 2009, again off route. The 31 is usually Scania Omnidekkas.

First's other operation in Poole is the Greyhound route to London via Bournemouth. On weekdays there is only a morning 0625 departure, but on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays there are also departures from Poole at 1300 and 1700. Here is 23322 (YN06CGV) Barbara Ann departing Poole coach station at lunchtime today. This is the first photo I've seen of Greyhound in Poole - but that may be because fotopic has gone down and my usual sources are therefore not visable!

Tomorrow - I'm going to show a snapshot of the Transdev Yellow Buses to RATP Group-owned Yellow Buses. Buses were carrying both fleetnames or no fleetnames today in Poole, and I'm glad I've managed to capture some in this changeover period.

Friday, 18 March 2011

First expanding in Dorchester

First Hants & Dorset have won the short term contracts for two routes in Dorchester. The town service route 101, which First already operate on Sundays, will be taken over from Nordcat and operated by Weymouth. First will also take on Nordcat route D12 - renumbered route 216 - connecting Dorchester and Yeovil.
I managed to capture this working of a Nordcat Solo on route 101 on an absolutely soaking wet day last summer (well, it is England). YJ07VTA is seen heading for the Crossways. First will hire three Solos from Dorset County Council - one may indeed by the Solo pictured above - to operate the two new routes. Two will be allocated at Weymouth (route 101, and one working on the 216) with another at Yeovil (also for the 216). No timetables are available yet but the services have been confirmed by VOSA.

Also - just for clarification - First have now registered the 58, 58A and 158 from Yeovil depot under the FHD company name. Hourly route 58 with a two-hourly 158.

On another note, I apologise for the lack of blog postings recently. They may be slightly reduced over the next few weeks due to other life commitments and fotopic's disappearance. I should be bringing photos from a day trip out tomorrow and Sunday though.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Joys of Online Publishing

Its now day 5 without fotopic, and I think I've only just realised how central it was to my online activities. I used to browse my fotopic site for inspiration to post blog entries - and that was also my supply of photos. Due to space on the hard-drive, I've only got photos from 2008 online. Furthermore, it has just dawned on me that all of the links to photos on my First Hants & Dorset website are now inactive and that will require sorting over the next few days if fotopic doesn't come up.

Now I'm betting that this is a server error - there is nothing coming up in the national news saying another company has gone under, and one would expect that if such were true there would have been something to come out from the wall of silence. Therefore, if it is a server/technical error, how long do we wait until going somewhere else? Baring in mind this may happen again, or the next time fotopic may really go under, I'm beginning to rethink if I want most of my eggs in the fotopic basket.

From tomorrow evening I'm going to start retransferring 2003-2007 photos back on my PC. If fotopic doesn't return by next weekend, then my loyalty is then cut and I may make changes to my freewebs site. I'm not sure if I want to go on pikfu - Joel says it is going to be very different from fotopic - when all I really want is a reliable Joel-run fotopic back.

I'm not sure how I'll make changes to my website yet. The above was one of my ideas from 2006-7 when I did think about ditching fotopic (or at least my First photos) and moving them all over to freewebs. We'll have to see. I hope fotopic starts working again as I don't want to have to re-create my site somewhere else - and also if it does, it gives the oppurtunity of a long period of transfer rather than a potentially rushed job.

As I upload my photos from past years over the next few days, there will either be a rush of photos or nothing for the next few days. Please bare with me - this blog is here still.

On a more positive note, please visit Matt Forbes' new blog here or Ant Poulton's new blog here - I wish them every success as their blog grows.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Isle of Wight today

I got back over to the island today for the second time this year - nothing has really changed since my January visit, apart from W&D now have two Solos and an on-loan Volvo B7RLE from W&D. More Solos are due/being prepared for service - I'm not sure for what purpose but there will be a need for 5 of them in the coming months. Anyway, on with today...

I'll start with the loanee - Wilts & Dorset 101 (HF54HFO) is in service on the island at the moment, covering a loanee Scania which in turn is covering the Scania Omnicity double deckers as they return to the manufacturer for warantee work (I think that's it anyway). 101 is primarily allocated to route 5, but today I managed to catch it on route 9, connecting Ryde and Newport. My first photo show 101 arriving in Ryde from Newport at St Thomas' Square, and the second image illustrates 101 departing Ryde bus station on a return to Newport.

I spent about half an hour in Newport bus station, and managed to grab some photos of the MPDs. There are now only a few MPDs left on the island - primarily allocated to route 1 (Cowes - Newport), but when available one also operates route 38 (to Carisbrooke). 302 (HW54BTV) is pictured on the stand in Newport bus station.

The main buses in service on the island are these Scania Omnicities - here is 1102 (HW08AOR) departing Ryde bus station for Bembridge on route 8.
The 8 and 37 interwork in Ryde. Here is Scania Omncity 1109 (HW58ASU) arriving in Ryde on a 37 - with the destination already set to route 8 for its onward trip. Pictured in St Thomas' Square.
5 former Metrobus Scania Omnidekkas are in use on the island. They are allocated to the school unit at the moment (seeing operational action on specific bus service lines and school services), and a fitter/mechanic drove 1055 (YN03DFP) up to the bus station today. Here is 1055 parked out of service.
Finally for today, here is another Scania Omnicity- this time 1142 (HW09BBU) pictured arriving in Ryde's St Thomas' Square on route 9 today. Thanks for viewing - I will upload all of these photos and more to my fotopic site when it starts working again - hopefully sooner rather than later...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What is to be done?

Today, once again fotopic has gone down. Again, there is no explanation - complete silence from fotopic (or rather their "Snappy" owners) - the only bit of light coming from former owner, Joel, on the Google Group focusing on Fotopic Users. Recently:
  • Fotopic have not been replying to emails sent to management. I have myself sent many in for help when the service or the search facility has been down - not a dicky bird back.
  • Any suggestions have not had a reply - about 2 years ago I asked if they could allow us to pick the group image photo on the front page. "It will come in the next software update" I was told...
  • The search facility has been down for a month or so now (or at least it feels like it).
I am a premium user, and it feels as if I am pumping money each time I renew my membership into an empty company. As it is, the group layout is retained even if your premium expires as the settings are kept. Am I getting anything for my money? Do fotopic deserve my money? Is it really worth it? What is to be done?
  • Keep going with the site. I've got thousands of photos on there - some which are only in the darkest deepest depths of my storage CDs. It would take me an age to upload them all again - and I do generally like the fotopic layout. Shame about the management.
  • Transfer everything to my freewebs website. This would be a pain due to having to embed the photos into web pages, but freewebs is 99.9% reliable and there is always someone on the other end of the email! It would be more time consuming but far more personal.
  • Flickr- now I'm not the biggest fan of flickr - the photos are too small and I find that you lose photos in the sorting facility. Having said that, I like the intergrated nature of being able to have one photo in several sections, and it seems to be very reliable.
  • The new software from Joel - Pikfu. No idea what it will look like because it hasn't been published yet, but apparently fotopic sites will be able to be transferred over some how. An interesting development - will have to wait until it goes live.
  • Finally, keep the site dormant and move onto somewhere else with the new photos. I don't like this option but you increasingly get the feeling that one day fotopic really won't come back and all of your time and energy will be wasted.
Regardless of whether fotopic comes back on 5 minutes after this post goes live, 5 hours or 5 days, my concerns (as I'm sure many of you share) will still be there. Will fotopic go down one day never to return? It is such a shame that what was once the best way (and when working, still is in my opinion) to display your photos online has ended up like this - here's hoping the good old days come back sometime sooner rather than later.

Monday, 7 March 2011

BlueStar Spectra

After trying to find this for a week, I managed to stumble onto Wilts & Dorset DAF SB250/Optare Spectra 3162 (W162RFX) today in Hythe.

3162 has been painted into BlueStar colours for the changes to routes 56/56A, which see BlueStar take over them as BlueStar route 6. However, certain journeys still operate from Lymington and are still operated by Wilts & Dorset - 3162 is one of those buses blue for route 6 but still operated by Wilts & Dorset.

3162 is pictured in Hythe on route 112, which connects the coastal town to Lymington. Blue buses on the 112 fit in well at Hythe - a BlueStar hub seeing 6 route 9s an hour, at least 1 route 8 an hour, and a Solo on the town services. Sources indicate that when the trees are cut on the 10/11 routes to Cadnam (interworked with route 6) then 3162 will move onto route 6 - but until then it has been used on routes 112 and 119. Haven't seen it in Bournemouth yet on an X1 or X2 though - but time will tell...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

They are rare, but you can still find them...

I'm talking about Wilts & Dorset's step entry DAF SB250/Optare Spectra double deckers - once easy to find no matter where you were in the Wilts & Dorset network, and now whittled down to just 7 in service.

6 of the 7 are allocated to Salisbury depot, and these include 3139 (M139KRU), pictured to the left. From my latest sources, 3136, 3138, 3140, 3143 and 3147 also operate from Salisbury, although they are quite hard to find and outnumbered by the former Southern Vectis Volvo Olympians in use in the capital of Wiltshire. 3139 is pictured arriving on an early morning 64 from Perham Down - due in at 1005 in Salisbury city centre.

However, at least one looks as if it will be around for a long time yet. Numerically the last Optare Spectra bodied step entry DAF is 3147 (M947KRU), which is one of the latest buses to receive Wilts' 2008 livery. She is pictured arriving in Salisbury on a 44 from Woodfalls on Friday morning.

3127 (L127ELJ) is also left in service from Ringwood - it is also the only one left in the striped Wilts & Dorset livery, although 3138 is in the coach version of the livery. Just a few years after W&D removed the last Bristol VR from service, the DAF/Optare Spectra cull sees its last 7 survivors - it will be interesting to see how many last into 2012.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Wilts & Dorset X5

On Sunday, Wilts & Dorset began to operate their new route X5 which connects Salisbury with Swindon. Yesterday, I visited Salisbury to grab some photos of the X5 in operation...

The X5 takes over from the former 5/6/95/96 set of routes, which connected Salisbury to Pewsey and then Pewsey onto Swindon. The X5 operates half hourly to Durrington, with hourly workings to Larkhill and Swindon. The Swindon service is technically split at Pewsey to meet driver route distance laws.
The X5 is predominantly operated by Wilts & Dorset's Scania Omncity double deckers allocated to Salisbury. 1139 (HF09BJY) is seen arriving in Salisbury to the right, while above it is 1136 (HF09BJU) standing at the traffic lights along Blue Boar Row.

The buses either show "Larkhill" or "Pewsey and Swindon" on leaving the bus station - and the display would change to simply "Swindon" at Pewsey. 1141 (HF09BKA) rolls onto its stand in Salisbury bus station.

It seems that any low floor double deck bus could be allocated to the X5, and low floor Optare Spectra bodied DAF SB250s do operate on the route when the Scanias are off road or needed on route 8. Here is 3183 (HF52VFZ) pictured arriving in Salisbury from Larkhill. 
Finally, here is another Scania - this time 1140 (HF09BJZ) arriving in Salisbury on route X5. I'm not sure if it was because I was looking for the X5s, but it does seem to have made the route more significant or special since the changes. The X also has signified its addition to Wilts & Dorset's regular Cross Country services - the X1/2 (Bournemouth - Lymington), X3 (Bournemouth - Salisbury), X7 (Southampton - Salisbury) and X8 (Poole - Blandford). The X for Wilts & Dorset, as illustrated by the company's website, appears to be for X Country rather than express.