Thursday, 16 May 2013

First's Long, Lingering Northampton Death?

... which started (continued!) this week!

The story so far : First Bus announced a cut-back in Northmpton; yet another cut back to join a long string of cut-backs (cuts-back?) which will reduce the former profitable and successful Northampton Corporation Transport network ...
... to just thee routes run by NCT's successors, First Bus. The remaining services will be: 4A as 22 (above), 4 as a sort of lumping together of 3, 16, 24 & 25; and route 2, as former service 11 now extended from Manfield Hospital into the Eastern District's Rectory Farm estate.
Abandoned are the Towcester Road routes 12 and 28 (formerly NCT 7 but totally changed) ...
... the Kings Heath routes 29 & 30 (formerly NCT 10 & 17) and the works service 23 ...
... also extended from its former Midsummer Meadow terminus. First have always been officially coy about what is to be withdrawn and when, but the "what" have been an open secret for a couple of months or more and the "when" is now confirmed as June 9th.

First has faced competition on the Kings Heath run for some time from Meridian ...
... so for four weeks Stagecoach joins the fray. Its route 12 runs cross-town from Kings Heath to Camp Hill ...
... as pictured here on Monday last. The 12 timetable leaflet is a mess, using colours rather than printing separate panels for Monday to Friday and Saturday.
 Green  is for Monday to Friday only;  Orange  is for Saturday only and  Blue  is for Monday to Saturday. A really good system for people whose eyesight is less than perfect!

Service 10, currently Parklands Estate to Town Centre is messily extended cross-town to Shelfleys to replace First's route 28.
The understandable "bus every 30 minutes" only applies between approximately 0900 and 1400, even on Saturdays. At other times some buses run through, others don't. It will be confusing for the locals!

As previously blogged, Stagecoach started an enhanced Monday to Friday all-day service to Brackmills (much improving on First's current peaks only 23) some weeks ago. Despite this, Northampton Council has tendered a direct replacement for First's route ...
... which will be operated by Country Lion

So, in essence, Stagecoach has "taken over" the withdrawn First operations (except 23) four weeks in advance of the pull-out. Presumably this means that the competition authorities are silenced, as no cash has changed hands? and presumably Uncle Brian and First's boss Fearnley are all good friends and together are quaffing foaming flagons of Tennents "special" at very possible juncture.
Or are they?

There's more to come in June.

 Next Bus Blog : Friday 17th May 


  1. More on Northampton's colourful timetables on yesterday's Omnibuses Blog

  2. I don't think you will find Uncle Brian quaffing a pint of anything!

  3. "Green is for Monday to Friday only; Orange is for Saturday only and Blue is for Monday to Saturday. A really good system for people whose eyesight is less than perfect!"

    - I have already sent email to Stagecoach on 22nd April as I'm colour blind myself. Got an intial response from their "Midlands Disability Helpdesk" on 23rd April that my query was being "passed on" to Northampton Depot customer services.

    Still no further correspondance at the current time.