Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Tantalising Tripartite Traumas (2)

fbb does not tend to write blogs about competitive situations because the situation can change rapidly. The Guildford "bus wars" have been running for some time now but things seem to have settled down to a stable lunacy for the time being. To try to make things more understandable to our reader, who may not be familiar with Guildford's infrastructure, the old man will attempt to keep its simple and concentrate more on what is happening now in preference to a very detailed history.

So here goes ...

Arriva versus Stagecoach
If you read yesterday's blog you will (posssibly?) remember that Alder Valley (now Stagecoach) sold its Guildford operations to London and Country (now Arriva). It would appear that uncle Brian's boys and girls are determined to win it back.

First capture from Arriva was all four of Guildord's Park and Ride services.

Transport operator Stagecoach is set to introduce 9 new fully electric, zero emission buses on its Guildford Park & Ride services in the new year.

Working in partnership with Surrey County Council, the investment in electric buses, worth over £3million, will be a first of its kind in the area.

The new electric single decker buses, built by Guildford based manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), will hit the roads in January 2019.

The BYD ADL Enviro200EV 10.8m electric buses have a range of up to 150 miles,   and have a capacity for up to 36 passengers and one wheelchair user. Customers are also able to take advantage of free Wifi and USB charging which are featured onboard.
Branded as Glide-Park and Ride these swish motors with a lump on the roof do glide almost silently to and from the town centre.
It is VERY disconcerting to meet one of these ghostly vehicles when you are least expecting them.

To pile pain onto the ailing Arriva, Stagecoach then won a contract to provide buses for Surrey University.

This 2015 map shows how it worked under Arriva's guiding hand.
The 26 and 27 (BLUE) provided a both-ways-round circular service; 26 via the University, Manor Park (halls of residence), The Hospital, Stoughton and back to town via Woodbridge and 27 in the opposite direction. Extra journeys for the Uni were added in by extending routes 36 and 37 (GREEN), serving the east of the town, through to Uni, Manor Park and the Hospital.

A 38 (PINK) was added shuttling between Uni and Manor Park.

Once Stagecoach bumped Arriva out of the private roads that serve the Uni campus, the 26/7 routes were retained for a while but without the extended 36/7 and, of course not via the Uni. (Has fbb got this right?)

The Stagecoach set-up offered a similar sort of service but with some modification.
Instead of 26/7 circulars Stagecoach retained the circular route, but numbered 1 (BLUE) serving University, Hospital and running on to Stoughton. Service 2 (YELLOWish) runs via Woodbridge to Stoughton. 1 becomes 2 and vice versa, changing at Stoughton (1 to 2) and at Woodbridge (2 to 1) according to the above map.

The effect of this is to make everything to and from the University show the number 1 1 - nice and simple for the averagely intellectual student and very easy for Uni staff and visitors. Stops on Campus are branded "Route One" ...
... (in words) but fbb saw no evidence of such a brand on the buses.

Service 17, also run by Stagecoach, is an odd tendered route featured some time ago in this very blog.
But fbb couldn't find it! Route CNEX is a mystery BUT it might be service 1X.
There is also a Night bus (N1) which doesn't feature on the flag at all.

But back to last Friday ...

Your ill equipped author has no timetable for the 26/7 but downloaded the Stagecoach leaflet in preparation for a ride. With limited time available last Friday after the launch, he spent some time trying to plan his trip until he realised that he was working from the Uni term time table. (click on the graphic below for a slightly bigger view)
This somewhat complex pattern provides a bus every 5 minutes between Uni and Manor Park (for halls and sports); a bus every 10 (plus a couple of extras) between Town, Uni and Hospital and four buses running on via Stoughton and the "circle".

But, oddly, only two each hour of the circulars starts from the bus station; the other two (at 24 and 54) commence their trip at the main Campus.

Eventually spotting his error, fbb then moved to the Vacation section.

Now we have a core ten minute headway serving everything, with four buses continuing via the circle every 15 minutes.
Of course every 10 and every 15 doesn't mix, so two of the Stoughton trips graze at the hospital for five minutes to even things out. On Saturdays and Sundays there is a simple 15 and 20 minutes frequency respectively.

Clearly Arriva was miffed at this loss of one of its key services. But the university-less 26 and 27 did not seem to be working, so a more drastic plan was hatched and, this time, it was as easy as A B C.

Because the easy new service is a bit more complicated (to illustrate, if not to use) fbb will continue from that point tomorrow.

Now would be a good time to slip in a ...

... First Bus RA2 PS
RailAir coaches have operated from Reading to Heathrow for a goodly number of years. Currently, coaches run every 20 minutes and have worn various liveries.
The timetable is straightforward but not well presented. At first glance it would appear that the service will deliver you to all terminals except 4 ...
... but you can only come back from Central Bus Station and terminal 5.
No doubt the driver will let you on at terminals 2 and 3 and you can enjoy a pleasant ten minutes waiting at the bus station - but the timetable should make this clear.

The most recent livery is a sleek and trendy blue job .,.
... replacing the previous mainly white.
This RA2 coach (registered YY63 WBU) was the first to appear on line in the later blue style but with "Reading" replaced by "Guildford".
Did First just peel off the old destination and stick on a new piece of lettering?
fbb assumes that all the Guildford limos are ex Reading, replaced by something newer and even more trendy on the RailAir 1


 Next Guildford blog : Wednesday 17th July 


  1. At least Stagecoach has the days of operation of the N1 right as "Tuesday to Sunday". Our local subsidiary would insist that it ran "Monday to Saturday" presumably because it thinks the date and day changes in the early hours of the morning rather than midnight.

  2. When Stagecoach bought Alder Valley they acquired deopts at Hindhead and Aldershot. IIRC Hindhead fairly quickly closed and a depot (more an outstation, I think) opened nearby in Haselmere. Three or four years ago, Haselmere was replaced by the currant depot in Peasmarsh. Up until then, Stagecoach's presence in Guildford was limited to a couple of services working in, although they may have had a handful of buses outstationed overnight in the bus station, I can't remember now. Once Peasmarsh opened, Stagecoach took a far greater interest in the Guildford area. I don't know if that was an intentional plan or simply a by-product of (say) having to vacate Haslemere and the only suitable premises to move to happened to be on the outskirts of Guildford. I guess we'll never know... but obviously a site with workshop facilities that is currently licenced for 60 vehicles will need a lot more work to spread the overheads across compared to a far smaller (outstation?) at Haselmere.

    I doubt it would be to cynical to assume that Stagecoach has noticed that (a) Arriva's Guildford depot has not traditionally had a great reputation, (b) has had very little renewal of /investment in, the bus fleet in recent years, and (c) is a good 50+ miles remote from AK&S's nearest depot at Tunbridge Wells and further still from the rest of their territory further east and north in Kent.

  3. @Anonymous
    The nearest Arriva Southern Counties depot is probably Hemel Hempstead....
    Other than the short-lived minis, it's true brand new buses have been in short supply, but quite a few newish buses have been shipped across from Kent: Sapphire buses from Northfleet and Enviro200s from Gillingham.

  4. HH or TW, not a lot in it! But yes, the fleet has had an update recently, although one could speculate how much of that was in spite of Stagecoach's growing presence or because of it.

  5. The upgrade was purely to compete with Stagecoach. Arriva have always been truly awful, over priced and with 51 plate buses largely. Then Stagecoach come and its modernised after years of neglect to try to run Stagecosch off. I for one hope Stagecoach and Safeguard win and Arriva are bid good riddance.

  6. Helping your hotel staff reach down to their job on time is our forte. We at NexGen Falcon will assist you in booking best class hotel staff transportation services without getting restricted about price or any other concern. Furthermore, the buses are designed to efficiently meet the needs of hotel staff in terms of punctuality, comfort and above all, safety. Feel free to have a cup of coffee with our team and enlighten yourself about our services.

    School Bus Service | Hotel Staff Transportation | Luxury Bus Rental In Dubai | Mini School Bus Rental | Yellow School Bus | Luxury Bus Travel | Looking For 7-15-28-30-32-35-50 Seater Luxury Bus Rental In Dubai