Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hello and Goodbye


We are very pleased to announce a brand new venture for Stagecoach South West as part of our plans for Plymouth depot.

The "South West Falcon" will provide a regular city link from Plymouth to the centre of Bristol calling at Exeter Park & Ride, Taunton Park & Ride, Bristol Airport and selected villages on the A38/M5/A38 corridor on a turn-up and go basis.
The map on the back of the coach shows just Cullompton as an extra stop,

The service will run hourly throughout the day, as well as some overnight journeys designed to meet flights for Holiday makers from Bristol Airport. The service and competitive fares will also appeal to students travelling along the corridor to the Universities in Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol, day trippers to Bristol City Centre and day trippers to the South West.

More information will follow in the coming weeks, but we also wanted to share a sneak peak at the brand new 15 metre Volvo B11R / Plaxton Elite coaches that we will be running on the service in a striking gun metal grey livery with blue and green relief, and are nearing completition at the factory.
And we all wondered why Stagecoach was keen to take over the dying First Bus business in Plymouth.

Will it work? Difficult to say, but possibly a poke in the eye for First Great Western Railway and Deutsche Bahn Querfeldein. When the Dawlish blockade ended there ere campaigns to retain some of the replacement buses, particularly between Plymouth and Exeter, because they were faster than the trains.

Cheekily (and bravely?), Stagecoach have taken on the idea with gusto!

But a word of caution. Do people really relish being dumped at Park and Ride sites - especially the impoverished (?) students mentioned in the Stagecoach piece?

More as it happens.

And there might be a launch - with cake?

to Hemel Hempstead bus station 
When it opened it was "state of the art", close to a newish shopping developing and with a modern pub on hand. But in its latterdays it had become a sad and neglected site.
So it is really no surprise that it has gone. Out Northampton correspondent writes:-
On December 21st 2015, as part of a major town centre improvement scheme, the admittedly small and basic bus station in Hemel Hemsptead was closed and replaced by on-street stops in nearby Bridge Street and Marlowes.
Provision of information is delegated to Arriva from a hut comparable in size to the Northgate broom cupboard despite the fact that a dozen different operators provide bus services, including inter-urban routes by Centrebus to Luton and Dunstable and Carousel to Chesham, Amersham, Gerrards Cross and Uxbridge.

Carousel do not admin to the bus station demise on-line ...
Centrebus X31 admits to using Bridge Street, but you would have to find the shelter first unless you had the timetable to hand.
But there is no longer a stop 12A on Bridge Street. Keep looking folks!

But would Arriva's enquiry facility tell you about these operators? And how often is their cupboard open?

On the afternoon of Monday 4th January (technically a bank holiday) the enquiry hut was shut.

The interchange is not welcoming to a visitor arriving from the railway station and wishing to travel onwards. Should you stroll a quarter of a mile along to the Civic Centre there might still be a leaflet available detailing all operators' services and showing which stop they now use.

But there is nothing to show this at the new interchange. Arriva has a diagram of its services on-line.
The enquiry "hut" and toilets are bottom left.

Shelters only have information for the services that stop there but there is no diagram of stops available and it is quite a trek from one end of the Marlowes interchange to the other.

So whatever happend to the plans as revealed in May 2013?
Plans to build a new bus station in the centre of Hemel Hempstead have been revealed. The current station site in Waterhouse Street will be demolished and, together with Market Square, will be developed into a leisure complex.

The new bus interchange will be built next to the Marlowes Shopping Centre on Bridge Street. The £2m project is due to be completed by September 2014, with the leisure complex finished in 2015.

The planned leisure facilities are set to include a multi-screen cinema and a range of restaurants.

Councillor Terry Douris said it was "committed to improving" the town centre, and making it an attractive destination. "These plans will improve the experience of travelling into Hemel Hempstead, encourage more bus and taxi users and will also bring new businesses into the area," he said.

Well. it hasn't been built yet!
Hemel Hempstead Bus Station

 The Pride Park sequel is postponed  

 Next bus blog : Sunday 10th January 


  1. I believe that the 4th January is only a bank holiday in Scotland

    1. Andrew Kleissner9 January 2016 at 13:50

      Technically that may have been true but I think that there was a lot of confusion. Our Ipswich Buses ran a Sunday service. And we went to Norwich and discovered that the P&R certainly thought it was a Bank Holiday as most of the routes weren't running.

    2. Ipswich Buses ran normal services on 4th January as did Norwich Park and Ride. The previous Monday (28th December) was a Sunday service.

  2. The Amersham & District Motorbus Society is organising a running day at Hemel. "24th January : Farewell to Hemel Hempstead Bus Station - a Mini-Running Day at Hemel Hempstead to commemorate the closure of the last London Transport designed Bus Station to survive in the former LT Country Bus area." For details see the A&D Facebook page, as the A&D website is having problems.

  3. Typical of what has been happening with so many new shopping centres or redevelopments in town centres.

    Promise wonderful new or updated bus facilities as part of a wider package to get people on board...........

    Then after initial 'approval and backing from Council and town leaders' its sorry but economic circumstances have changed and the package doesn't add up unless we have more retail space (or similar comment). So the bus facility will have to go (totally or elsewhere). If that isn't acceptable we are looking at an alternative location in a neighbouring town.

    Town centre and business leaders then go into fits of panic as this will lead to shoppers going elsewhere which will kill off the trade etc. etc. Only car borne optional trade matters!!!!

    So its bye, bye bus facilities (and possibly other things as well).


  4. The Arriva Travel Shop in the bus station always used to hold information for any operator who wished to supply it, I assume the new broom cupboard will continue to do so (certainly no one has indicated otherwise).

    Much as I would like to claim Centrebus were on the ball, we haven't actually served the Bus Station in years and have always run from Bridge St/Marlowes. As such we weren't even aware the bus station was actually closing or that they had renumbered the stands on the road, now we know I'll ask the lad who looks after our website to update the details, councils are bad enough at moving buses around stands let with little notice let alone telling them when they change the numbers which is one of the reasons many operators stop showing them on printed information as they often get changed during the life of the leaflet.

  5. Visiting on Thursday (7th) the Arriva micro Travel Shop had timetable leaflets for Carousel and Centrebus freely available as well as Hertfordshire County Council maps and a tendered service leaflet and Arriva leaflets. Not bad coverage.

  6. Lots of Devon and West Somerset folk use Bristol Airport, so there is a pretty good potential serving in serving it from the south, avoiding the hassle of taking the train to Temple Meads and the 'Flyer' bus out again. The grind along the old A38 to Bristol City Centre will be slow, however, and the P & R sites in Exeter and Taunton do not exactly aid inter-urban travel. Presumably the X38 Plymouth to Exeter service, already struggling and much reduced, would be withdrawn? I wonder if there will be a call at Tiverton Parkway station -certainly the direct 'Dawlish' replacement coaches from Plymouth were quicker than the train?

    1. The Falcon doesn't go anywhere near Exeter city centre, so I don't see why the X38 would be affected. Not initially, at least.

  7. NatEx's Coachway at Milton Keynes is a long-established out-of-town stop which seems successful (it also now functions as a park & ride location). Such sites can be easier for those customers deposited or collected by car than those in town centres.
    Another example is the Citylink stop in Perth - at the Broxden Park & Ride - while Megabus makes use of out-of-town stops in locations such as Swindon and Coventry.

    1. And Stagecoach is very well versed in using MK Coachway and Broxden for similar inter-urban coach services. Sounds like planning the Falcon has benefitted from experience and best practice from around the Group. As indeed it should.

    2. Stagey use the Coachway for the X5 - but curiously not for Megabus. Will Nat Ex perhaps not let that in at all because it's a direct competitor?

    3. Stagey have done their home work on this.They will make a fist of it.Those Elites are good especially the noise when braking.So you can travel from Cambridge to Plymouth on Stagecoach Buses .

  8. Didn't Megabus also run extra services in the South West during the Dawlish closure?
    Having brand new coaches for Falcon seems rather bold but Stagecoach SW appear to have the Midas touch and, like other commentators, I am sure they know what they are doing?.

    1. Thats the way to go new buses for a new venture.It should pay for itself.

  9. Good to see more X5-style quality interurban coach services in England (there are already plenty in Scotland) - hope it does well.

  10. It will be interesting to watch. Just one thing its not "First Great Western Railway" its just "Great Western Railway"

  11. Stopping at Drumbridges would take very little time and maybe recoup some of the passengers the X38 lost from there.

  12. ...and "Great Western Railway" it certainly is not. The GWR men of old must be turning in their graves!

  13. "First's Great Western Railway" would perhaps be the best way of describing it!

    Hopefully the Falcon will do well, as Neil said, it's good to see a new express coach service being launched.

  14. Thank you for the information. With so many structural developments in Bristol. Best silver parking Bristol airport doesn't want to be left behind.