Wednesday 11 December 2013

Another Day, Another Launch

"Bicester" continues tomorrow
Critics of First Bus in Weymouth have a point. The last new buses for a commercial service were delivered for the Portland route 1 in 1999 and are still running!
This is one of the batch (V803 EFB) snapped at Kings Statue yesterday. But, for Weymouth, that's in the bloom of its youth. How about ...
... S820 KPR also dating from 1998/9, but bought by Southern National before the First Bus take-over!

Hand-me-downs are also a feature of the local rolling stock. Here is W702 PHT ...
... in Weymouth yesterday, and formerly with First Bristol, seen in Park and Ride blue.

But one of the most travelled motors must be T77 TRU.
Bought by Tnruroian (hence "TRU") who sold out to First; then used in North Devon (2 to Appledore); then Plymouth (5 to Mount Gould); then Southampton (2 to Townhill Park) before ending up at deprived Weymouth.
Yesterday, in response to a kind First Bus invitation, fbb hied eastwards from Seaton. He would have hied by bus but there is no X53 from Seaton until 1011 (too late); likewise the 0914 service 31 from Axminster would have been a bit tight. There is an 0814 from Axminster but this blogging lark does have its financial and convenience limits! So fbb drove; but followed the X53 route via Abbotsbury to enjoy some of the superb X53 scenery.
Two of the new vehicles were paraded at Weymouth Harbour, complete with a cluster of the great and the good; local councillors, First's passenger panel and First Management. The suit is Mark Williams ...
... Weymouth manager.

The press was there to record the momentous event ...
... the first First new buses since 1999!** There are six new vehicles, five branded for route 2 and one "spare". They are the shorter wheelbase Streetlites; with leather seats ...
... in  tasteful shade of mud. And, of course, Wifi is standard and free.
After a general admiration of the new arrivals, the party gratefully repaired inside for coffee and cake; the latter being particularly yummy!
By the time fbb had made his way back to Kings Statue, new buses were already running to Littlemoor.
There is a perception (true to a certain extent) that First are only upgrading their fleet in areas where business is good and predicted to get better. Cascaded (sounds better than "hand-me-downs") will always end up in less profitable "backwaters" like Weymouth (with apologies to all Weymothians!). The arrival of six brand new, top quality, shiny, state-of-the-art single deckers in largely rural Dorset suggests that senior management is keen to do better. Hooray!

Thanks, First, for the invite!

** New buses have been bought for the X53 but this service, at the time, was tendered by Devon and Dorset county councils.
And, Talking of Streetlites ...
Sheffield is on course for a bus revolution after a fleet of new 21st century buses were put into service at an official launch on The Moor on Sunday 8 December. First, one of the region’s principal bus operators, has launched 41 new ‘Streetlite’ buses into the city (also covering Rotherham).

At the Moor on Sunday 8 December, First showcased one of the new buses under the banner ‘Evolution of Buses’. Customers were given the opportunity to try the wifi capability and gave positive feedback that wifi access would make a real difference to how and when they would consider using buses.

The new buses have been put into service on routes 52 (Woodhouse to Hillsborough), 69 (Rotherham to Sheffield) and 76 (Low Edges to Meadowbank).

Well, nearly right, First! The 76 runs from Low Edges, via City to Firth Park and MeadowHALL. Bad house point. You need to try harder!
 fbb's Advent Calendar for 2013 
Wednesday 11th December
It was one of the biggest battles of will in the Bible. Runaway Moses had experienced a theophany (look it up!) at the Burning Bush. Despite every ounce of logic pointing to the dangers, he went back to negotiate the release of the Hebrews from slavery and to lead them back to the land promised by God to Abraham generations earlier.
Nine physical horrors, each one progressively worse, affected the Egyptians. Various attempts have been made to "explain away" these "plagues" with varying degrees of success. But why bother? If the existence of God is a reasonable hypothesis then He can conjure up any amount of super-human activity to fulfil his purpose. That, as they say, is what it says on the tin we call God! If there is no God, then the whole narrative is meaningless anyway and we can obliterate 2000 years of Jewish history as a fabrication.
Before the tenth of the plagues was announced, the Hebrews were told to get ready for a journey, to enjoy a meal of roast lamb and bread, having first painted some of the shed blood on the doorway. Then, as the first-born of the Egyptians (that would be the oldest child, of course - born first) perished, the "Angel of Death" would pass over (The Passover) the marked houses.
The blood of the pure and spotless lamb protected the Hebrews from death and prepared them for their journey to the Promised Land.

The pattern continued with Jesus, the pure and spotless lamb of God. And the significance was recognised by the Wise Men as they gave the baby embalming spice (myrrh, for a death), one of the three meaningful Christmas gifts.
 Next Bus blog : Thursday 12th December 


  1. In fact, the V-EFB Volvo SDs were a divert from Bristol, First's investment in the former Southern National operations since 1999 is pretty woeful.

    1 batch of 6 Dennis Dart SLF/East Lancs Spryte's T-RYC/V-DYD, a Cawlett order which was honoured.
    5x 58 registered short Enviro 200s, for Taunton
    4x 09 registered short Enviro 200s for Bridgwater, reduced to 3 and now removed from there and sent to Taunton.

    15 buses out of a fleet of 70 bought new. But they took over a much larger fleet, and gave the work away to small independents who have a foothold.

    Of course there's been much cascading, but there has been a failure to improve the quality of the cascaded stock. The old York B7Ls which do much of the interurban work still retain their hard plastic seats, which they were supplied new. For want of a few thousand a bus, they'd have some competant interurban vehicles.

    I think First's departure from Somerset can't come soon enough TBH.

    Dorset has fared little better - these new Streetlites are the first new commercial investment since the S-KPR Dart SLFs, although they were in part backed by Prescott money. The R-NPR Varios were bought for the 1 to upgrade it in early 1998 and they might well be the last 'new' commercial investment.

    FHD has managed to cascade newer stuff in but more importantly, they have refurbished it. Somerset seems to think some new paint is enough - although to be fair they are consistent in their use of front, side and rear LED destinations and have retrofitted a lot of the fleet.

    Old buses don't need to look like nails.....

  2. S-KPR Dart SLF's did Dorset CC purchase these buses for the 31 between Weymouth and Axminster via Dorchester?