Tuesday 2 July 2013

Ornithologee From fbb

First Extra
Too much happening at First, so click (here) for a photo report on the fantastic Open Day at First Aberdeen.
Not a Bloop (?)
If a blog update is a "blupdate", then perhaps a blog scoop s a "bloop"? fbb's ramblings are usually composed in advance, to keep a few blogs in stock, as it were; so it was that respected fellow blogger Busing blooped the story (of First's latest livery variation) on Saturday, last, 29th July. (read here)

But having excercised his "leedle grey cells" in febrile composition, your inventive blogger thought, "Oh, what the stuff! I'll publish anyway!" So here is fbb's un-bloop.

Whilst we all remember the heartening wartime ditties from (Dame) Vera Lynn ...
... even her most enthusiastic fans may not have heard of a recent version of the lyrics sung with equal passion by the staff of First's Larbert depot.

There'll be bluebirds whirling
Through grey streets of Stirling
Just you wait and see
There'll be joy and laughter
For First ever after
A thrill for you and me.
The Buses with wifi will bleep
Paint will be blue again
Fearnley will have restful sleep
As passenger numbers gain.
To mem'ries Alexander
First Bus will pander
Just you wait and see..
And, all together with the chorus ...

There'll be bluebirds whirlng
Through grey streets of Stirling 
Just you wait and see.

Ah, it brings a lump to the eye and a tear to the throat. A recent First Bus press release explains:-

First Scotland East has revealed that it is making significant improvements to its Service X38 fleet which are designed to improve the quality of journeys for passengers travelling between Stirling, Falkirk, Linlithgow, Edinburgh and locations in between.

In a move that recognises the route’s historic links, First has re-named the service, FirstBluebird. Many customers will remember that it was Bluebird buses that jointly operated Service 38 with Eastern Scottish in years gone by.  [Not quite adds fbb, it was "Alexander" ...

... later branded as "Midland"] First is repainting Service X38 buses a distinctive blue reflecting the old Bluebird colours of previous years. Nine buses have already been transformed.

In addition, every bus that operates on the route has been fitted with complementary wi-fi so that customers can enjoy free use of their tablet or mobile device whilst on board. First has also extended a successful fares promotion which sees the price of day return tickets reduced on certain legs of the journey until 1 September.

Managing Director of First Scotland East, Paul Thomas, unveiled two of the improved vehicles at the company’s headquarters in Larbert.

He said: “The changes we’ve introduced to our Service 38 vehicles reflects our aim to improve services for our customers and our commitment to encourage more people to use our services and to use them more often.”

Previously, pre-privatisation, "Bluebird" was used for coaching and long distance services and the name appeared in a variety of forms. Here on an obvious coach ...
... here as the adopted post-privatisation brand on a pre-Barbie First bus ...
... and peviously this, on a lovely Leyland National ...
... and garishly on a so-called double deck "coach" (?)
Co-incidentally, it is showing "38 Winchburgh" on the blind, a short working on the predecessor to First's new look X38.

Whilst we all would wish FirstMidlandBluebid every success with its unpunctuated brand - the blue looks really "cool" and the whole idea is exellent - fbb does wonder about that avian name. Surely another bus operator, a little further north in the land of haggis curry and deep fried Mars bars, uses the same name?

For its long distance coach routes, St*g*ec**ch uses/has used ...
... or ...
... or even:-
And didn't the self-same company buy another operator in Manchester earlier in the year?
And there's a London-based travel agency ...
... a compny in Nepal ...
... and, slightly less exotic, ...
... coaches in Weymouth.

But for real, filling extraction nostalgia, many of us "oldies" will remember:-
Now that was a brand to remember and a flavour to savour.

Despite these fbb light hearted niggles, First's "Bluebid" concept shows considerable improvement on the boring "one-size-fits-all" group livery. Buses are essentially a local product supported by a strong national identity. A "FirstBus" logo on  relevant local branding, perhaps with a little nostalgia to cheer the more mature customer, seems to offer the best of both worlds. Long may it continue!

But such First Bus excitements make fbb's recent visit to Taunton all the more depressing.

As we shall see ...

And yesterday's big surprise (NOT!); letter to staff from First's Mr Fearnley

It is with regret that I have to inform you we have begun the collective consultation process with the trade unions on proposals to withdraw all bus services from Northampton, the possibility of redundancies and closure of the depot.

 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 3rd July 


  1. Midland wasn't a "brand" as such - it was one of the three companies set up when the Alexander empire was split up in 1961 - hence why Midland, Fife and Northern are all able to lay claim to the Bluebird.

    Of the pictures above, the Leyland National and the Leyland Olympian are in pre-privatisation livery; the T type is after purchase by GRT Holdings, as evidenced by the thistle over the i of Bluebird.

  2. The use of the blue bird goes back way further than you suggest. Alexanders were using the symbol on their coaches from the 1930s (and on some buses), and the name 'Bluebird' also appeared. After the split in 1961 all three companies continued to use the blue bird symbol on some vehicles. The 'Midland Bluebird' fleetname also appeared before the 1980s - in one book on the subject, there is a photo of a fairly new Bedford VAM of 1967 with that fleetname.