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The 265 sees First return to Salisbury for the first time since 2008, when the joint X4 service with Wilts & Dorset was withdrawn, and First cut back their part to Warminster as the 264/265 route.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of cuts across the former First Somerset & Avon district, with Bridgwater town services decimated, frequencies withdrawn in Wells, and more.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! 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

New Enviros in Portsmouth

Over the course of 2013, Portsmouth is to receive many new buses for the two primary fleets that serve the city - First Hampshire & Dorset and Stagecoach South. Stagecoach's final batch is arriving at present, and this post documents the latest upgrades to the routes around Portsmouth city.

First up are an existing batch of Enviro200 single deckers, introduced to services at the beginning of the year. 36831 (GX62BFK) is one of a number of similar buses that are allocated on the Havant - Wecock Farm services, via Crookhorn and Waterlooville. These buses rarely get onto Portsea island itself, unless one strays onto the 20 or 21. 36831 is missing its arrows which inform potential customers of the frequency and other important matters.

The second change is the repainting and rebranding of the '58' plate batch of Enviro300 single deckers, allocated to route 23. The "Surf23" has been dropped for Stagecoach's colour coded route branding and arrows. 27565 (GX58GNO) shows off the new style as it heads down Bishop Crispian Way in Portsmouth. Route 23 serves The Hard on a Sunday, which brings these buses to this location.

Finally, the new order for route 20 and 21 are another batch of Enviro300s. 27862 (GX13ANV) is one of a number of similar examples being introduced into service at the moment. As illustrated, there seems to be space for a similar style of branding to be added to this bus.

Following these upgrades, the oldest buses in service from Farlington depot will be found on the 30/31 Hayling Island services, which will be no more than a decade old. Brand new Enviros on the 20/21, three year old Enviros on the 700, five year old Enviros on the 23 and seven-eight year old Tridents filling in where appropriate, and on the 37. First have announced 37 Streetlites will be introduced onto Portsea island too by November, so things are certainly looking up! 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunday Lost Scenes - Sunday 14th July

Today's Sunday Lost Scenes reminisces about my first Yellow Buses photo...

Transdev Yellow Buses 186 - SK07DYB - Christchurch (Bargates) - 28th January 2010

The Bournemouth and Poole area has historically always been a strange gap my photographing geography. While I've concentrated well on the south coast from Portsmouth to Lymington, Lymington to Swanage was once a great chasm in my collection. The 28th January was the first time I ventured into the gap, seeking out Christchurch, where Transdev Yellow Buses had just introduced their brand new Optare Tempos. Not knowing the area well, I made things more difficult for myself that I needed to as I went on market day...

Walking from the railway station, I was first struck with how busy the traffic was. This caused any photographing opportunities to be aborted, until I reached the Bargates. This is the location where the 1a, 1b and 1c stopped on market day, as they could not access the high street. Unique Enviro 186 (SK07DYB) was strangely the first bus I ticked off the Bournemouth Transport list - one that I thought would be challenging to find!

Following those first steps into the great gap, I've since filled in most of the locations. However, I've never done Bournemouth properly as an enthusiast - a couple of trips outside the railway station to the travel interchange but not a long period in the town centre. I tried yesterday - even achieving the satisfying photo that is now my title image - but aborted due to the crowds. 

Bournemouth Transport have indeed also come a long way in those three and a half years. Now owned by RATP, there has been a constant improvement in the fleet, coupled with a never-ending increase in variety - it really is the perfect fleet for the enthusiast! 

Blog note - I've been concentrating on the FHD enthusiasts website recently by adding new features, updating everything etc- so therefore the blog has remained a little neglected. Now the majority of the work is done (apart from continuous updates), I should be able to find time to post more blog entries again. And as one commenter said - the first rule of self publicity is to provide a link - so here you go this time!