First South West and Wales discussion

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by Ivo, 27 Feb 2012.

  1. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Given we have quite few members in the general South West and Wales area who know a thing or two about the operations of First in the area, and like to discuss as much, I thought it would be sensible to have a new thread going for them (akin to the two Stagecoach fleet changes threads) so that we don't need a new one every other week! :lol:

    So obviously at present D&C are preparing themselves for some big gains come the start of April (see here). On the other hand, courtesy of the extensive cuts Somerset CC have made Taunton went the other way just last week! Would it not make sense for some of the redundant Taunton fleet to sent down to Cornwall instead of the scrapheap as some of them seem to be, or in some cases here there and everywhere?

    Meanwhile, in other news, we are having some service changes on the 1st of April. The one I know of will see the SPA2 withdrawn during term-time and the entire SPA1 timetable cast back five minutes. This is a positive move, but still doesn't address the biggest problem of the route - the three-minute turnaround at this end of the route. Whether the SPA2 will still be around during the Holidays though, I don't know. On the other hand though, I am told that the SPA1 is struggling financially, and I can certainly believe that - I am even led to believe that there is a possibility that the two University routes may be merged again!

    P.S.: A quick question - has anywhere in the area still got the older Wayfarer machines? I wanted one :(
     
    Last edited: 27 Feb 2012
  2. dorsetman

    dorsetman Member

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    First Dorset and South Somerset still have Wayfarers.
     
  3. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    What have you recently acquired at Bath, other than the MB 709 illustrated previously?
     
  4. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Lets see First cymru have reduced the frequency on a lot of their routes to free up some buses to cover elsewhere in south wales.

    The Swansea FTR service is to have some services worked by standard buses on weekdays during off peak for some strange reason.

    Service X4 Neath - Bridgend is to be withdrawn and replaced by a new X1N Neath - Bridgend which basically follows the same route as the X1 between Port Talbot & Bridgend instead of running to Mc ARthur Glen via the M4 which was popular with OAP's and many others since they didnt need to travel from Port Talbot on National express.

    The Swansea - Heathrow coach service is being cut back to Cardiff leaving a much reduced national express service west of Cardiff. This has left a lot of people baffled since that service 201/202 always had a lot of people. Of course this could see a lot more people commuting between Cardiff & Swansea by train or on teh greyhound service which cannot cope as it is.

    First Cymru's Cardiff depot has been a bit of Mix and Match. Recently their yelow schoobuses have appeared on their service 400 Cardiff - Beddau which they have now withdrawn from the end of this week.

    First cymru have had to put some of the old Mercedes-Benz 709d's which were new to Cityline in Bristol and even 1 of their dennis javelins has appeared in service recently.

    The are supposed to be new vehicles arriving soon for services in Swansea but sadly no double deckers even though they would be ideal (Why because the only available deckers went to either Bristol or down to Devon).

    The open top service to Mumbles last summer using MOD 571P which some of you may remeber it being operated on the Weymouth open top service prooved to be a good sucess and will be expanded this summer although now idea what vehicles are planned to be used.

    First are looking at expanding in the Rhondda & Cardiff area's which talking to stagecoach staff has caused some alarm so I am expecting Stagecoach to retaliate soon perhaps launching city routes around Swansea or even in the Mid Glamorgan area.

    Meanwhile the majority of recent arrivals have been Marshal darts and some Optare solo's from Bristol, Slough Bath & Devon although Stagecoach are buying brand new scania's.
     
  5. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Not much. A couple of older Volvos, but we've lost some of our newer ones. We had some Marshall Darts a few months ago, but so has pretty much everywhere else in the area.
     
  6. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    I have heard that First cymru have gained some new tenders in the Cardiff area recently and so would most likely need vehicles for these although they also need extra vehicles as the fleets are really being pushed to their limits due to the current shortages.
     
  7. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Heavens, is it still around?
     
  8. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    It is preserved in South wales somewhere now so I have no idea what open vehicles will be coming down this summer.

    What we need in south wales are some of theose Alexandser ALX400 double deckers which are being used in Bristol. A few were in storage for a while so after the olympiucs will the management please listen to what customers want and send a couple down.

    You can even have those low floor volvo's back in exchange since they do seem to struggle up hills although not as much as the marshal darts some of which are useless on hilly routes.


    With the shortage of buses the volvo olympian which are normally used on Neath college services and the occasional trips on service 125/X20 now seem to be appearaing regulary on services which run from Swansea to the Neath & Swansea valleys.

    The return of operation of some of the Mercedes-benz 709d's is good for the local bus enthusiasts in south wales.

    First cymru are also taking a bit of a battering around the Neath & Port Talbot area's from the local independents such as SWT who surprisinly are winning the local bus war's and Edwards have seen off First cymru on the Cardiff - Beddau route(With Edwrads taking over diamond coaches and their depot in Morriston I think we may see Edwards going after contracts such as ane Gower Explorer network.)

    All we need is for Stagecoach to start retaliating against First
     
  9. starrymarkb

    starrymarkb Established Member

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    There is a rumour that First are going to be replacing the high spec E400s in Plymouth with W plate artics.
     
  10. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    And as I said elsewhere, I bet I know where they're from :roll: S&A never tell anyone anything. Even the Students' Union here know that.

    There are a few other W-reg ones around, but I can't see the Leeds examples leaving any time soon (especially given they've only recently been branded for the 95), and Glasgow is surely too far. In other words, keep an eye out for 10035/6/7 (although one of the three, 10036 I think, is currently in for repairs).
     
    Last edited: 27 Feb 2012
  11. starrymarkb

    starrymarkb Established Member

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    I believe it's the Glasgow Batch...
     
  12. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Shock horror - Bath escapes! That would be one for headlines :roll:

    To be fair though, Bath really isn't a bendy-friendly city.
     
  13. starrymarkb

    starrymarkb Established Member

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    It's still not going to go down well. Esp since this is how the Enviros are specced
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    It looks like a Stagecoach Goldline vehicle. Whereas the W-reg artics, assuming they are like ours, have very hard seats that may as well not be there.
     
  15. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Makes you wonder why the council bothered t spend £10m on road 'improvements' to allow the FTR buses to run in the first place...

    I am baffled. As you say, the coaches always seem to be busy.

    I was talking to someone (a First Cymru employee) at the Swansea Bus Museum yesterday, who reckoned that some buses will be sent down to Devon and Cornwall when FC receive more. He also said that D&C was the last stop before the scrapyard!
     
  16. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Strange considering that Devon & Cornwall have had a large batch of brand new vehicles recently.

    As for those deckers down in Plymouth you can bet they will be on their way to Bristol/Bath although I suspect some in the south wales operation will be fighting to get 1 or 2 for the busy routes in Swansea such as those to Oystermouth etc.
     
  17. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Bristol's network has been renovated over the last year or so as part of the "TravelPlus" initiative (see here), and most routes are expected to receive new vehicles in the near future. It is quite possible that at least one of the ten corridors in question will be receiving Plymouth E400s.

    On the other hand, when I went to Oystermouth we had a Marshall Dart - and it made Bath look cheap. I asked for a return but I assume they should have offered me a Rover or similar as an alternative?
     
  18. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    They certainly seem to have an almost limitless number of Eclipse Geminis, although curiously not on the 8/9 which one would have thought was one of the busiest routes; any particular reason why they have to have Darts? Isn't a Day ticket something like £6? That might be moderately acceptable if you're going to Cribbs Causeway, say, but hardly if you just want to go from Temple Meads into town, and not in one of those horribly lumpy four cylinder Darts. (And particuarly if you decide to bale out halfway, due to motorcycling Santas, like last time, but that's anothet story).
     
  19. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    If you were traveling from the City Centre to Oystermouth then the return ticket they would have given you is the day rover ticket for the swansea city area. (Bounded by Morriston, Llandarcy, Briton Ferry etc)

    Anyway we are supposed to have at least 8 new vehicles soon for services 25,27,28 & 36 all of which are having their frequencies increased only 3 years after they reduced the frequency of them. From april because of the cuts from the council and WG the last buses on most routes will be at 7pm with the only evening bus service running on service 82A to and from the Student Villiage..

    First cymru dont really seem to have as much innovation as stagecoach who especially have launched many new routes and sharply increased the frequency on others as well as buying brand new vehicles such as the new Enviro 300 bodied scanias for service 172 Aberdare -Porthcawl
     
  20. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    The day ticket is indeed £6, which is pretty steep - but it is far better value than our £4.10 off-peak fare (on account of the size of Bristol's network).

    As for the 8 and 9, a large number of single-deck second-edition Volvo Eclipses were brought in in the winter of 2009/10, many of which run services between Wells and Bristol/Bath (officially they are registered to Bath Depot but in practice they only come here for MOTs). Some of these however were introduced on the 8 and 9 - and then withdrawn again. The now run the 70 to UWE.

    I haven't been on the 8 and 9 right round the loop so I don't know if there are any clearance issues, but in practice they wouldn't be needed anyway. The service between Temple Meads and the centre is the every six minutes between the two - the joint-highest frequency anywhere in the Bristol/S&A network - and there are plenty of alternatives from Temple Gate, only three minutes only. In practice, they rarely load more than about ten people at Temple Meads, even after busy HSTs. It is only half a mile or so after all; it's not exactly Paddington to the Bank of England...

    I definitely had a return. And having checked the price of the Day ticket, I paid 95p more than the current fare.

    Even we get better than that. Almost all of our services run through to at least 2200, and our Bright Orange routes run much later than your 82A (and they need to given the amount of users they attract at 0200). The last departure from the City Centre on the SPA1 is at 0240!

    Without PTE assistance First don't have much innovation period. Bristol is an exception to the rule, but it may as well be a PTE anyway.

    EDIT (19th March): My data suggests that Bristol has 154 deckers in August last year, of which 103 were Volvo B9TL Geminis. Of the remaining 51, there was one Volvo Olympian (which I think has gone now :(), 42 B7TLs, and eight Tridents. This may be different by now though.
     
    Last edited: 19 Mar 2012
  21. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    IVO I know 1 or 2 drivers with Stagecoach who always keep me up to date with the latest gossip they here from the management.

    Stagecoach were looking at extending at least 1 trip per hour on their Pontypridd - Aberdare service down to Swansea where it should compete against First cymru's X5 Glyneath - Neath - Swansea service. I am expecting a bit of a bus war to start up around the Cardiff & Rhondda area's soon. Stagecoach have lost a lot of contracts in the Newport/Chepstow area's to Newport bus who inccidently are a very good operator and are looking at expanding.

    There was talk of newport bus running a Chepstow - Swansea bus service not sure what I make of that although their scania's are lovely to travel on.

    The problem with Bristol is that the frequencies on a lot of routes are so high that it will be nearly impossible for another operator to compete, I heard Stagecoach did look at launching a competitive network of services in & around Bristol but it seemed to be dropped.

    If they had decided to do so I would have been appyling to work for them.
     
  22. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    I know a couple of drivers here too, and one of the few things First do here that I like is that they give the drivers consistent shifts. (For me, this means the 16:30 on Wednesdays from the centre on my way back to Uni after my School Placement.)

    Bristol is effectively a no-go zone for other operators. Wessex have won most of the contracts in the area, both from the Councils and Universities, but otherwise their network in Bristol is almost nonexistant. Otherwise, there is almost nothing. As such, I can't see where Stagecoach would fit in - unless they promise better reliability than First, in which case I'll happily switch allegiance! :lol:

    I have to say though, there are some areas that they don't serve particularly effectively. Avonmouth, Shirehampton, Sea Mills and others have just one operation between them, the 40/41, and they tend to use the older ALX400s; worse still, if something goes wrong and there are insufficient ddeckers for the service, they lose out first. There might be an opportunity out that way...

    Chepstow to Swansea is a long way :lol:

    Speaking of Newport Bus, how do they apply for internal Newport contracts? How are the council supposed to give everyone an equal chance?
     
  23. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
    FYI glasgows artics are ok and are used to doing a bit of speed. If your short of deckers I hear mutterings that Scotland East are getting replacements for some shagged out olies, new in 98. Want some?
     
  24. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Please :p

    They'll probably be sold :(
     
  25. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Hmm, they usually seem to be about every 15 minutes in practise, thanks to factors like motorcycling Santas and other causes of congestion.
    True, there are lots of Buses in to town from opposite TM, but going the other way it's not so easy unless you happen to know offhand which ones do go past TM, and they go from all different stops around Broadmead, and you can chase around looking for which stop they go from. That's what I tend to find, anyway.
     
  26. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(


    pitty anyone who actually buys them - good buses but theyve been worked hard and often not very well looked after.
     
  27. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    One of the problems with the 8 and 9 though is that as with all other City services they don't serve the bus station. The only frequent routes between it and Temple Meads are the Airport Flyer (which doesn't count) and the X39 (which is busy anyway). Similarly, the 8 and 9 might be advertised as terminating at Temple Meads - but many others are shown as running via Temple Meads, given they stop on Temple Gate anyway.

    What they really need are new vehicles with special advertising for the routes and their tourist potential (allowing for the Zoo and Clifton suspension Bridge). Oh wait - they tried that, albeit without the tourism angle, and then aborted it. Now the routes don't have any branding at all; their Darts are in Bath and others and their Volvos are on the 70. Now they are just another City route that just happens to run on to Temple Meads forecourt.

    The other issue is that by the tme you have walked from the platform to the 8/9 stop, it's only 100m or so (and some traffic lights) to the Temple Gate stops, so there's no real gain in deliberately using the 8 and 9 to get into the centre. As you say, from the centre is a different story, but you have to remember that the 8 and 9 also only stop at selected locations. Most groups of stops have at least one route to Temple Meads, even if this means walking up from the A4...

    Apparently we can expect new 12-reg buses in April! (My source doesn't know what exactly though.)

    I expect they will be new Eclipses for the X39, as part of the Travel+ scheme.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2012
  28. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Perhaps he is a little out of touch, or out of date!

    I've sometimes been asked for more than the day ticket would cost, but usually I am offered the day ticket option. When the former happens, I always say that I'll have a day ticket instead, but visitors like Ivo may not be aware of the various fare options, and get overcharged, if my experiences are anything to go by.

    My contact on Sunday also mentioned the withdrawal of evening services from April 15th, but only on Sundays. It seems he might be very out of touch if it is every day!
     
  29. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    More news from my source indicates that I had better get used to walking. We are set to lose our Sunday service during holiday periods! Now, this does make sense, because they probably get about three journeys all day - but I wish he hadn't told me when I had a foot injury :(

    Or they could put the rattleboxes from Taunton on the SPA route :lol: Speaking of which, they are still running; one was out today.

    That is an embarrassing thought :oops: Sometimes they just like to make a quick buck without thought for Customer Service! This driver is the sort of driver that hates his job and may as well work as a traffic warden...
     
  30. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think it may be more to do with being on 'autopilot' - just put the destination into the machine and recite whatever comes up without thinking. I suffered from this syndroem once or twice ont he railway, your mind just goes to sleep...
     

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