First South West and Wales discussion

Ivo

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Ilfracombe Bus Station [taken from my Guess the Bus Station thread]

It really isn't the largest of their operations is it?

On a related note, does this mean that the 28 to Minehead will be the furthest south they go on the west coast, or are there any First services on that coast in Cornwall?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I must admit I wasnt expecting this news however I wonder what this will mean foR First's south wales operations.

I have heard talk of the other groups sniffing around and Stagecoach are supposed to be looking westwards.
Oh yes; nice one. Let's give away Bath's Solos to STAGECOACH. Lovely idea.

:roll:
 
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anthony263

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Ilfracombe Bus Station [taken from my Guess the Bus Station thread]

It really isn't the largest of their operations is it?

On a related note, does this mean that the 28 to Minehead will be the furthest south they go on the west coast, or are there any First services on that coast in Cornwall?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Oh yes; nice one. Let's give away Bath's Solos to STAGECOACH. Lovely idea.

:roll:
Stagecoach wouldnt touch First's optare solo's anyway they seem to prefer the mini slimline models which First's are not.

Maybe we can send them back to you
 

Schnellzug

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Interesting indeed. Coupled with the recent overhaul at Taunton (partly caused by Somerset CC) you have to wonder if here is a wider issue. Are First not supposed to be in debt at present? Could this be a factor?

I wouldn't be surprised if - with the possible exception of Plymouth - Bridgwater and Weymouth become the south-western limits for FirstGroup before too long. There really is no reason why this should happen though.

Another question would be the sale price - £2.8M? Including depot, vehicles and staff? Something does sound wrong...

When are we looking at? Is this an imminent change?
And (speculation is fun, isn't it) if that was to occur, they wouldn't possibly want to keep Weymouth as an isolated outpost of Hampshire & Dorset, perhaps it would either be sold as well or merged with S&A, which I think is really what ought to happen. If it was sold, than i suppose the inaccurately named Go Ahead would be the only likely contender.
 

Ivo

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Thinking about that though, didn't they buy Truronian not so long ago? Would they really buy out an independent and then sell the combined operation a few years later (unless absolutely essential for financial reasons)?

Regarding Weymouth, I really can't see how it would fit well with anywhere. Wilts & Dorset are probably most likely though, as you say.
 

mbonwick

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Don't forget that between the purchase of Truronian and now there has been a significant change of management at First.
Emphasis has shifted (rightly) from constant expansion and being the biggest, onto trying to provide the best service for the customer at a cost-effective rate.

It's hardly surprising that as part of said drive, several operations which don't fit/ need a lot of work doing are being sold off.

Out of interest, does anyone know of a fleetlist for First Barnstaple (ie. the bit that's being sold)?
 

Ivo

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Is the depot indicator for Barnstaple etc ND (i.e. North Devon)? If yes, I don't know where from but I have a fleet list as of August last year.
 

Ivo

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The 2 looks doomed. The 31 Park & Ride route stops at some of the local stops en route, such as Hamilton House, and the others are covered by the (occasional) 620 to Yate and Chipping Sodbury. It never carries more than about 10 passengers per journey, and very rarely has more than 2 passengers north of Sion Road. Coupled with a reduction in minibus fleet, as noted previously, and the inevitable looks very likely. If the withdrawal does happen, and I haven't seen it confirmed anywhere but several drivers have suggested as much to me, then expect March 31st to be the last day.

As for the 4, the intention was to use the current evenings and Sundays model of having people use the 264/265 instead. However, they can only serve Bathampton in the outbound direction, due to vehicle size, and seemingly cannot access Holcombe Vale at all. The problems that would face people in Bathampton would be greater than the cost savings, so the 4 has been given a lifeline.

In the early 90s (at least) there current 1 and 4 routes ran as one. Assuming the feed about the 2 is accurate, I feel a repeat may be on the cards - but don't take this as read; it is merely a hnch that has some historic proof behind it.

The other routes that are definitely changing are the SPA1 (recast by five minutes with fewer morning peak journeys but more evening peak journeys), the SPA2 (withdrawn during term-time; nothing concrete during holidays though), and the 8 (withdrawn).
 

tbtc

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Out of interest, does anyone know of a fleetlist for First Barnstaple (ie. the bit that's being sold)?
That's what I was wondering - there aren't many buses which transfer between the big operators (apart from a few leased buses that come to the end of the lease and are snapped up by another big operator)...

...as Stagecoach are trying to eliminate "non standard" vehicles here in South Yorkshire (various Volvo B6s, plus a lot of random vehicles inherited when they took over Rapsons/ Mayne etc that found their way to Sheffield) I'll be interested to see what "non standard" buses they inherit as part of this deal.

Or will First be dumping other vehicles in Barnstaple (so the thirty buses that come as part of the deal may not be the thirty that are currently allocated there)?
 

starrymarkb

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That's what I was wondering - there aren't many buses which transfer between the big operators (apart from a few leased buses that come to the end of the lease and are snapped up by another big operator)...

...as Stagecoach are trying to eliminate "non standard" vehicles here in South Yorkshire (various Volvo B6s, plus a lot of random vehicles inherited when they took over Rapsons/ Mayne etc that found their way to Sheffield) I'll be interested to see what "non standard" buses they inherit as part of this deal.

Or will First be dumping other vehicles in Barnstaple (so the thirty buses that come as part of the deal may not be the thirty that are currently allocated there)?
Traction Group didn't have a standard vehicle, they bought who-ever offered the best price and sod fleet commonality
 

mbonwick

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...as Stagecoach are trying to eliminate "non standard" vehicles here in South Yorkshire (various Volvo B6s, plus a lot of random vehicles inherited when they took over Rapsons/ Mayne etc that found their way to Sheffield) I'll be interested to see what "non standard" buses they inherit as part of this deal.

The B6s are being removed as part of a Uk-wide drive to get rid of the horrible things. Once the Olympics are over there will be no B6s left with Stagecoach (bar 30339 which is being preserved).

Similarly, any East Lancs Spryte bodied Dart is also on the hitlist as they don't age well.

Other than that, Yorkshire has a pretty standard fleet.
 

starrymarkb

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The B6s are being removed as part of a Uk-wide drive to get rid of the horrible things. Once the Olympics are over there will be no B6s left with Stagecoach (bar 30339 which is being preserved).

Similarly, any East Lancs Spryte bodied Dart is also on the hitlist as they don't age well.

Other than that, Yorkshire has a pretty standard fleet.
A B6BLE from Devon has been preserved as well
 

tbtc

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Traction Group didn't have a standard vehicle, they bought who-ever offered the best price and sod fleet commonality
Yup - great if you are an enthusiast but a real "rag bag" assortment of vehicles

The B6s are being removed as part of a Uk-wide drive to get rid of the horrible things. Once the Olympics are over there will be no B6s left with Stagecoach (bar 30339 which is being preserved).

Similarly, any East Lancs Spryte bodied Dart is also on the hitlist as they don't age well.

Other than that, Yorkshire has a pretty standard fleet.
Yorkshire has a fairly standard fleet nowadays, but that's partly after a lot of "weeding out" - hopefully in six months time we'll be rid of the last ELS Darts etc

Sadly a lot of bus improvements come with the phrase "after the Olympics" attached - we just have to wait a bit longer
 

Schnellzug

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I do hear (going back to First SW), that there are New! doubledeckers promised for the Weymouth & Portland area, just in time for (all together now) the Ol****cs. I wonder if these, if they do transpire, will be new, or second hand Eclipse Geminis from Macnhester or somewhere?
Also, the award winning X53 Jurassic Park coastlinx Service must be about due new vehicles, as well; that's always (by virtue of being Prestigious) given preferential treatment. The current ones are 08 reg, and they replaced 04 reg Scanias.
 

mbonwick

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Yorkshire has a fairly standard fleet nowadays, but that's partly after a lot of "weeding out" - hopefully in six months time we'll be rid of the last ELS Darts etc

Sadly a lot of bus improvements come with the phrase "after the Olympics" attached - we just have to wait a bit longer
Indeed, Yorkshire has seen a lot of vehicles moved in to try and standardise the fleet, and for the most part that's done.

With regards to Yorkshire at least, the phrase "after Olympics" isn't necessarily appropriate with regards to brand new vehicles - its just a convenient expression of timeframe, the Olympics don't have anything to do with the timing.
 

83G/84D

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Ex First Hampshire Volvo B10M 20457 seen in Truro yesterday.

As widely mentioned on other bus forums FD&C P&R Enviro's based at Plymouth are going to Somerset & Avon very soon with one already (partly) repainted. With the sale of North Devon based operations to Stagecoach the few examples at Barnstaple are expected to go to S&A and are not thought to be part of the sale.

It is uncertain what will replace them at Plymouth.
 

Ivo

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As widely mentioned on other bus forums FD&C P&R Enviro's based at Plymouth are going to Somerset & Avon very soon with one already (partly) repainted. With the sale of North Devon based operations to Stagecoach the few examples at Barnstaple are expected to go to S&A and are not thought to be part of the sale.

It is uncertain what will replace them at Plymouth.
So are you suggesting that they may yet be receiving something besides the Glaswegian artics?

As for the other Enviros, it's an interesting thought. We could certainly do with them on the X39, allowing our older Lances to finally be withdrawn in the process as the current X39s Eclipses would then be used elsewhere in Bath, but somehow I doubt that will happen - even though the X39 desperately needs greater capacity :( On that point, the drivers believe our bendies should go on the X39 and not the Uni routes!
 

83G/84D

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So are you suggesting that they may yet be receiving something besides the Glaswegian artics?

As for the other Enviros, it's an interesting thought. We could certainly do with them on the X39, allowing our older Lances to finally be withdrawn in the process as the current X39s Eclipses would then be used elsewhere in Bath, but somehow I doubt that will happen - even though the X39 desperately needs greater capacity :( On that point, the drivers believe our bendies should go on the X39 and not the Uni routes!
Seems like the Glasgow bendies weren't a success, 10133 was trialled in Plymouth and then sent away and last seen at Lawrence Hill.I believe the Enviro's are going to Weston-Super-Mare (for the X1) not Bath but no-one seems to be saying what will replace the Enviro's at Plymouth.

First are having a big fleet reshuffle soon so perhaps we will know more then!
 
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Ivo

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Seems like the Glasgow bendies weren't a success, 10133 was trialled in Plymouth and then sent away and last seen at Lawrence Hill.
No real surprise there. access to Plymouth centre isn't the best, even if the centre probably is bendy-friendly. But I would expect the regular customers would be most unhappy about losing their spec to something that is surely all about profit?

I believe the Enviro's are going to Weston-Super-Mare (for the X1) not Bath but no-one seems to be saying what will replace the Enviro's at Plymouth.
So do we, but will that apply to the Barnstaple ones?

First are having a big fleet reshuffle soon so perhaps we will know more then!
Will we get anything good? I'm not holding my breath.
 

starrymarkb

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Seems like the Glasgow bendies weren't a success, 10133 was trialled in Plymouth and then sent away and last seen at Lawrence Hill.I believe the Enviro's are going to Weston-Super-Mare (for the X1) not Bath but no-one seems to be saying what will replace the Enviro's at Plymouth.

First are having a big fleet reshuffle soon so perhaps we will know more then!
There are apparently a pair of brand new E400s at Plymouth in First Olympic livery - presumably they are going to be commendeered for the olympics
 

Ivo

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Seen today in Bath were 51742 (one of the rattleboxes) on country route 179 (brilliant idea when it's roughly every 90 minutes), and a step-entrance Dart with the word "TIT" showing as its number in the rear box on an empty run to the depot. Very immature :roll:
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I've just found something very interesting on the S&A site:

First to offer refunds for late journeys as part of new customer charter

In a move that reflects its increasing confidence in its ability to operate buses more punctually and reliably than ever before, First in Bristol, Somerset and Avon is introducing a new �customer promise from 1 April, as part of a new customer charter.

The �customer promise enables bus users to claim against First if one of its buses leaves a defined timing point more than one minute early, more than 20 minutes late or if it fails to operate a journey at all, and the company is found to be at fault.

To support the launch of the customer promise and to make it easier for customers who wish to make a claim, First has produced Travel Claim Forms, which will be available from Travel Shops and bus stations in the region, as well as from its website, www.firstgroup.com/bristol (from 1 April).

Talking about the promise and the new customer charter, Regional Commercial and Business Growth Director, Marc Reddy, says: "This marks a natural progression for our business. In recent years we have seen increasing investment in transport in Bristol and the surrounding areas not least in projects such as the Greater Bristol Bus Network, which officially launches on 15 March. The improvements in bus priority measures, among other things, have meant we have been able to improve our service delivery and while we expect to see things improve even more as we feel the real benefits of the Greater Bristol Bus Network, were already starting to see the impact on travel patterns in Bristol with more people now willing to use the bus.
More than one minute early, huh? If everyone that uses the SPA1 at night knew about this the route would start making huge losses inside a week <D

On many routes this would mean that a single cancellation and the company would be liable. It's not much use to a pass holder like me though is it?

Otherwise, it is interesting to see how this compares to 185's post about Manchester (saying they have been fined for consistent failures) earlier today...

(By the way, what is � supposed to be? Some sort of corporate trademark?)
 
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Schnellzug

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I'm a bit suspicious about this.
First in Bristol, Somerset and Avon is introducing a new �customer promise from 1 April
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* Actually, nock and criticise them as we do, this is perhaps a fair point.
In essence the changes to BSOG account for around an 8.6 pence increase in cost of every litre of fuel bought by First to use in its buses - ie a significant sum when you consider that First uses well in excess of 2 million litres of fuel a year travelling around 69.9 million miles each year in the South West and Wales. NB the average double decker bus does around 6.4 miles to the gallon. The reduction in fuel duty rebate also coincides with increased fuel costs in general and a worsening exchange rate - which makes the cost of fuel even greater for FirstGroup.

The changes from April mean that the cost of fuel will significantly increase for all bus operators in the UK. There remains no change in the situation for rail or airline operators, who do not pay excise duty on the fuel they buy at the point of purchase.

Which I think is a fair point, and once again highlights the lies and hypocrisy of the Politicians when they try to sy "We are trying to price motorists out of Cars and encourage the use of Public Transport; and particularly when we bear in mind that First Great Western (for instance) receive hefty support from the Government.
 

Ivo

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I'm wondering if it might be worth contacting them about this and warning them about certain journeys in advance. The SPA1 route is an absolute nightmare for timings - you will almost never see a journey run to timetable, and in many cases it will run several minutes early! But, on the flip side, what if the "victim" is a pass holder? What would happen? Also, for those of you who know about it (I shan't explain), what would it have meant for my "Day of Disaster" in October when a SPA1 failure ruined the entire day? Lastly, such incentives have run elsewhere. When Essex first introduced the Canvey Clipper route (now the 26), it had exactly the same guarantee, as did many low-floor routes in the early days of the technology. But I never heard any stories of them paying out.

Oh, and I STILL haven't received my compensation for the "Day of Disaster"! I shall be making a rather angry phone call later today I think <(

Appendix: SPA1 evening/night service

Departs Grand Parade at XX40; arrives Bath Spa Uni XX04 (SU XX07).
Typical journey XX39; XX55 (XX56).

Departs Bath Spa Uni XX12 (SU XX09); arrives Grand Parade XX37.
Typical journey XX09 (XX08); XX31.

---------------------

More from firstgroup.com on the matter:

� Regarding the Customer Promise:
- Money back will be in the form of free travel up to the value of the original journey. The refund only applies to fare paying passengers, concessionary pass holders are not able to claim through the scheme.
- Examples of when First would be at fault include, if a bus failed to operate because of a driver did not report for work or if a vehicle suffered a mechanical failure. NB First would not be liable for delays caused by any of the following: vandalism, security alerts, industrial action, severe weather, heavy traffic conditions, road works or road closures.
- A defined timing point is a place on the route where the bus cannot legally be more than one minute early, or five minutes late more than 90% of the time. They are usually, but not always, the places marked on the official timetable. Information at the roadside usually states whether a specific bus stop is a timing point or not, in some cases bus stop information will state that the times given at the roadside are estimated based on the time taken for the bus to travel from the previous official timing point.

� About the customer charter
First Bristol, Somerset and Avons new customer charter will be officially published in the coming months, it contains useful information about how to catch buses, information about the standard of service customers can expect from First, details of Firsts policies on smoking, customers under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the carriage of bicycles, surfboards and dogs, and information about how to contact First to retrieve lost property or offer feedback about services.

Now I know what the � means :lol: It does specify that concession holders won't qualify though, which whilst annoying is somewhat obvious. I'll just have to help other students and get them what they deserve instead. After all, seeing First grovel and realise their operation is a failure is worth infinitely more than the pound or two I would get out of a failed journey! <D

Oh, and do people really need to be told how to catch a bus? You'd think it was obvious, but no :roll: What cannot be explained though is why all their previous "advertising" on the matter is inside buses, by which time the passenger has already "caught" the bus!

----------------

Whatever happens, I have alerted the Students' Union here. I don't want a situation in which we have to threaten the company with telling every student to complain every time something goes wrong, but if they continue to fail we may have little choice. The new timetable in April will be a deciding factor I feel. I know for a fact that at least one of the candidates to take over as SU President has suggested getting Wessex Connect or someone else to run the service, which is more of a threatening factor, but then that's not for her to decide - and is obvious anyway.
 
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causton

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Yeah, good luck with that. Bus timetables aren't easy to stick to in Hertfordshire and we're not even that busy really (except for St Albans, which is where most of the problems are. If there's one city centre that would do really well to have cars banned it would be St Albans - it's tiny!)... but yet the bus I catch to work on a weekend is 10 minutes late when it leaves the bus depot and I look at the driver's duty sheet and it was the first bus of the day for them, so no inbound working going wrong there! And the Arriva buses that should come every 15 minutes but I see 2 or sometimes 3 of them bunched up... I wish I had a scheme like this, I wonder what would happen if I bought a day ticket and claimed for every journey I made on it? Especially for the +1 minute early at night...!
 

Ivo

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Yeah, good luck with that. Bus timetables aren't easy to stick to in Hertfordshire and we're not even that busy really (except for St Albans, which is where most of the problems are. If there's one city centre that would do really well to have cars banned it would be St Albans - it's tiny!)... but yet the bus I catch to work on a weekend is 10 minutes late when it leaves the bus depot and I look at the driver's duty sheet and it was the first bus of the day for them, so no inbound working going wrong there! And the Arriva buses that should come every 15 minutes but I see 2 or sometimes 3 of them bunched up... I wish I had a scheme like this, I wonder what would happen if I bought a day ticket and claimed for every journey I made on it? Especially for the +1 minute early at night...!
Arriva are experts are running services that should run at reasonable intervals simultaneously. This is the main reason I resent them so much - their hopeless reliability record. I have never known any Arriva subisidiary to do anything like this (except for low-floor runs - see below), and this is almost certainly true universally. Back home in Southend it is perfectly normal for three journeys on routes 1 and (to a lesser degree) 9 to run simultaneously - and this is the main reason they are losing out to First on the main A13 and A1015 corridors.

N.B.: They did have a scheme at one point where customers could claim if they were inconvenienced on route 9 when it ran a step-entrance vehicle for a while, but the company abused the rule. It wasn't unknown, especially on Saturdays, to see Volvo Olympians running around showing "9A" instead of "9"; any guesses why? Yes - to avoid failing their own guarantee. There was no mention of a "9A" anywhere else, including in said guarantee.

The only decent bus subsidiary Arriva own in my experience is Merseyside - where, like with ATW and the WAG, they are seemingly best friends with Merseytravel and thus appear to get preferential treatment over other operators.
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Just over 12 days to go until the upcoming changes around S&A.

And yet, First are still yet to publicise what is happening! Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils have all publicised the changes that affect their authority areas, giving people a chance to learn the revisions and leaving First in the dust, but - not too surprisingly - BANES have not. So very few people in the area have any idea that some routes are changing so imminently, because neither party can be bothered to do anything about it.

One cannot help but wonder if the two area dragging their heels on account of most of the upcoming revisions being negative. I don't even know for certain if the list [2, 8, SPA1, SPA2, 318, 319] is exhaustive or accurate.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As an extra, here is what the SU President sent in response to my message about the Charter thing:

Thank you for forwarding this on. This is brilliant information. I am going to forward it and bring it to the attention of those people in that meeting [the one a few months ago] including tim [the Membership Services manager]. It's a shame you won't be able to benefit from the scheme [on account of holding an ENCTS pass], but at least it means that it will be better for all of us, hopefully!

And Scott I feel the same about the candidates they know that something needs to be done but they haven't thought about how.

Although I was unsuccessful in making change, at least my manifesto had ideas for how to improve the service. But as soon as the winning candidate is announced [yesterday] at 1pm they will be brought up to speed on the bus negotiations. Then hopefully they can be more realistic.
Technically he did bring one improvement, in the imminent SPA2 withdrawal (resulting in an improved afternoon SPA1 service), but he has overlooked this. (I don't mind including my name because most of you know it anyway :roll:)

Oh, and as expected the girl who seems to know absolutely nothing about buses won, so my work will be cut out <( On an unrelated note, why, oh why, did they use the Alternative Vote system? How stupid can they be? <(
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We finally have a list of changes being made (far too close to the deadline)...

http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/bristol_bath/travel_news/service_updates/?item=4031&conf=0

Nothing about Bath's 2 whatsoever. Which means it must be staying as is. All that for nothing :roll:

Amazingly, most of the changes are positive. Having said that though, there appears to have been a lot of council influence in these decisions - and some that aren't council-influenced are merely correcting previous wrongs.
 
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