Tuesday 9 April 2013

Competition or Consternation? [Episode 1]

But first, First comes first yet again ...
The gist of Fearley's latest shocker is reproduced below. Click on the image to enlarge and read it.

Was the industry expecting this?

Transit Systems?
Transit Systems is an umbrella organisation, which was formed to oversee the operations of Swan Transit (Perth), Torrens Transit (Adelaide), Bay Islands Transit (Brisbane) - [Australia, buses - fbb] - Gladstone Ferries (Gladstone) and the combined Stradbroke Ferries and Big Red Cat (Brisbane).
Back to the trivial!

Market Forces or Maddening Future?

Recent news revealed that First Bus is to withdraw from "some" of their Northampton "network", which, it has to be said, is a mere shadow of the once proud Northampton Corporation Transport operation.
NCT was privatised and sold to Grampian ...
... (Aberdeen Corporation as was) and Grampian merged with Badgerline to create First Bus. Northampton bus watchers will tell you that, from that moment on, the former Corporation bus service went into near terminal decline.

The current routes represent about 25% of the town's bus network, consisting of six "proper" routes and a few journeys on works service 23.
There has been "friendly" competition with Stagecoach on many of the roads shown, particularly as routes converge nearer the town centre; but generally each operator has kept to its "territory". Upstart Meridian has competed on the Kings Heath routes for some time ...
... and very recent newcomer Unobus has started a directly competitive route 21 serving the major part of First's number 4.
So which of First's routes will be abandoned? Answer, we don't know; First aren't telling ...

But local rumours suggest that only the 2, 4, and 4A will remain; a 14 vehicle operation.
So what replacements can be expected? Might the new operator be St*g*c**ch?

From the end of March, Uncle Brian has been running an enhanced service 1 to Brackmills ...
... in addition to First's sporadic 23 and, since then, Stagecoach has registered three more new services.  These are:-

From: Kings Heath
To: Camp Hill
No: 12
Effective Date: 12-May-2013
To operate a 15 minute frequency Monday-Saturday
and half hourly on Sunday

So this covers First's current 12 and (presumably) the present Kings Heath route(s).

From: Shelfleys
To: Parklands
No: 10
Effective Date: 13-May-2013
Other Details: Monday - Saturday half hourly service

No Sunday service

Effectively linking the Stagecoach current route 10 (renumbered from 52 as recently as 24th March!) from Parklands cross town to cover First's existing route 28.

From: Northampton
To: Sunnyside
No: 3
Effective Date: 09-Jun-2013
Frequent service up to every 10 min daytime,
Monday to Saturday,
half-hourly evenings and Sundays 

Now this is in direct competition with First's 4 and Uno's 21 and must mean that the Kingsthorpe Road will be even more over-bussed than it is now.

We await confirmation of all this with bated breath, but fbb can't see a 14 bus operation lasting long with First. Is this pruning a means of creating a viable chunk of business to sell to another existing operator? fbb still has his suspicions, you know; reinforced by a warning shot across the bows from Stagecoach whose newly registered 3 will affect the current 21 as well as the 4.

There will be tears before bedtime in at least one board room, maybe two!

 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 10th April 


  1. Assuming First continue with the 2/4/4a that makes things a lot simpler if they were to just pull out entirely.

    The 4 to Kingsthorpe is already mostly covered by Stagecoach and Uno, pretty easy to adapt routes to serve the Obelisk Rise area for either operator.

    The 4a to Acre Lane, well put it out to tender, I'm sure SC and Uno (and others?) would go for it.

    Most of the 2 is already covered, SC run from town to to Buttocks Booth (sorry, PC friendly version "Lumbertubs") on the 7,38,39, leaving only Lumbertubs Lane and part of Thorpelands to cover, again just a case of retendering?

    Perhaps slimming down the First assrts in the town would make a sale a lot cheaper and therefore more attractive?

  2. Could have something to do with redundancy notice periods, I think if you make more than 100 people redundant at one go, they are entitled to 3 months 'consultation', less than a 100 = 30 days consultation.
    I stand to be corrected if anyone is better informed!