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 Despite some routes being withdrawn, the other more profitable routes see more buses.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.