Friday 7 September 2012

First Fights on Four Fronts [Update]

Winning the War in  Ipswich 
Last Friday's "Route One" Magazine had a big article about the battle between Ipswich Buses and First. fbb suspects that the whole piece was a public relations "coup" for Malcolm Robson, Managing Director. The article said little (if anything) about First's publicity efforts (if any?) but much about how jolly good Ipswich buses were.
Maybe not even handed and totally objective journalism?

The T-shirt slogan is the slightly risqué "I'm so easy : Give me a try!" How will First respond PR-wise? First's Ipswich manager in fake tan as medallion man?
Perish the thought.

Meanwhile, in  Southampton , First have published their timetable for new service 11 to Hythe; nice and tidy every hour ...
... (thanks Busing for putting fbb right) in direct competition for Bluestar's very untidy service 8 but running in the half hour gaps; so not a "run them off the road" attack.
Meanwhile in Southampton City itself, where Bluestar is introducing an incursion into First's traditional area with its new route 16 to Townhill Park ...
... First has registered an increase in frequency on its main Townhill Park route. The 7 goes from every 10 minutes (6 an hour) to every 7/8 minutes (eight an hour).
These "strategies" seem odd, in a way. Bluestar's 8 is hardly a big money spinner. Once upon a time half hourly, it now needs County "subsidy" for evening and Sunday journeys with a cluttered timetable in an attempt to woo enough passengers to make it viable. There's nothing much for First there.
Bluestar's new 16 is offering a different route from either of First's Townhill Park services, but a route which is unlikely to bring huge commercial success. Here, an opinion from a commentator on the Southampton Bus blog (sample here).

Well done, Bluestar, on selecting a route few will use. Yes, Mr Likely Passenger, you'll have a double seat to yourself, probably a whole bus because I really cannot see many people using it. I'll wave to you whilst walking past the bus in Cobden Avenue whilst it sits for a good thirty minutes in traffic. Most people living in this area already walk to either the Triangle where they will have 8 route 7s an hour or to Bitterne Station where they have up to 19 buses an hour.

Such comments may not necessarily reflect the views of fbb!

And, so far, no sign of Bluestar's timetable on their web site or on Traveline with just over three weeks to go. [see STOP PRESS below] Perhaps Bluestar doesn't want you to use it?

As usual, your chubby correspondent will be on hand to report every twist and turn of these interesting, nay amusing, developments. Such a pity that none of them will do much for the long term benefit of the travelling public!
STOP PRESS : This blog was prepared some days ago. Bluestar's timetable for the 16 to Townhill Park has subsequently appeared on line ...
... although clicking on "detailed map" ...
... does nothing and there is no PDF page to download and print.
No further news, so far, from  South Yorkshire  and  Plymouth .

 Next Bus Blog : Saturday 8th September 


  1. Sloppy reporting again Mr FBB! The Bluestar 8 runs neither in the evenings nor Sundays, the HCC contract is for the daytime operation. This subsidy has always been of surprise given the 8 is often well loaded. Add to this First have won the Hythe local so has an excuse to keep their 11 route going for at least five years. I think this might just work for First, Bluestar have been continually slated for poor service provision in Marchwood whilst First have generally much lower fares on inter urban routes from Southampton.

  2. More from Ipswich

    Registered on Monday:


    Registration Accepted
    Starting Point: Ipswich
    Finish Point: Ipswich Hospital
    Service Number: 17
    Service Type: Normal Stopping
    Effective Date: 05-NOV-2012
    Other Details: Mondays to Fridays.

    Registered today:


    Variation Accepted: Operating between Ipswich, Tower Ramparts Bus Station and Ravenswood given service number X3 effective from 08-Nov-2012. To amend Route and Timetable.

    I suspect that First may not like the following recent registration either (although perhaps more in terms of future implications than in actual abstraction of revenue):


    Registration Accepted
    Starting Point: Bury St Edmunds, Bus Station
    Finish Point: Ipswich, Old Cattle Market Bus Station
    Service Number: X14
    Service Type: Limited Stop
    Effective Date: 22-OCT-2012
    Other Details: Monday to Saturday, every 2 hours

    This seems an odd idea as First operate Stowmarket - Ipswich every 30 minutes. It makes slightly more sense between Bury & Stowmarket (assuming it serves Stowmarket) as although Galloway operate an hourly Bury - Stowmarket daytime service (part commercial, part tendered) with Mulley's operating a few tendered journeys between the towns as well, these take over an hour where as the number implies that Stephensons will be using the A14 (probably halving the journey time). The rail service will still be quicker and more frequent and I've always assumed that this was why no such service operated.

  3. A true fbb bludner, first Anonymous (above). I should learn to read timetables! Thanks for the correction.

  4. Are you going to blog yourself FBB

  5. Just goes to show that mistakes do happen! 'that's life'