Thursday, 16 March 2017

Worrying Withdrawal in Weston (3)

First Fearlessly Fills the Fissures
Let's first look at some dates.

 March 27th  : First starts service 5 having withdrawn
exactly the same service a couple of years ago.

 April 17th  : Crosville 103 and 107 have ceased

 April 30th  : Crosville N3, 5, 14 and 16 have ceased,
First revises 3, starts X7 and Weston Flyer
Maybe, maybe not; but it all seems to fit together rather too neatly. Sorting out the detail is made easier by an excellent First Bus map available on-line. Apart from the 5 referred to yesterday, there are no timetables as yet.

April 17th is straightforward. Between Bourneville, Weston and Sainsbury's Worle, First's 3 and Crosville's 103 are in direct competition. So the 103 gets the heave-ho!

From the end of April, First's 3 (MID BLUE) ceases to serve St Georges ...
... and instead extends to West Wick. We will see why in a moment but it would appear that St Georges loses its bus service completely from 30th April when Crosville's part service 5 (extensions to service 105 (DARK RED map below) also disappears.
The other mid April departures is the 107 (YELLOW) ...
... again a direct copy of First's 7 ...
The one difference is the the 107 continue from Oldmixon via Lidl on Winterstoke Road to the big ASDA (and the big Waitrose!) at Searle Crescent.
The shopping extravaganza is also served by 3/103.
Apart from the 5/105 changes, the pull-out on 30th April involves three linked services. Crosville's 14 and 16 cover the Locking Castle area.

The Estate takes its name from the remnants of a Motte and Bailey castle ...
... which lay between RAF Locking and the main Bristol to the West Country railway line.
The raison d'être of the 16 and 18 lies between the green road and the railway and in the "V" between main line and Weston-super-Mare loop. Despite the implications of the map above, the straight road parallelling the A370 dual carriageway does not exist.
The former "yellow" road is now a footpath and cycleway.
Had it been built as a dedicated bus lane, the route of the 14 and 16 might have been easier to arrange.
Here is the 14 (GREEN) c/o Traveline ...
... with six return journeys between town and Sainsburys but on schooldays only.
And here is the somewhat better 16 (ORANGE) with even more wiggles ...
... and an hourly service Monday to Saturday.

To add to the mix is the N3 (BLUE-ish). This, called over optimistically a late night service, extends the 103 at both ends to provide evening journeys.
N3, 14 and 18 are, fbb dangerously presumes, tendered services with subsidy removed by a cash-strapped North somerset Council.

But here is what First's web site says.

Thanks to ‘kick-start’ funding won from North Somerset Council, on Sunday 30 April 2017 Service 3 will extend from its current Worle terminus to additionally serve West Wick. West Wick will also be served by a new service X7 (PINK on the map below), which will run from Weston via Locking Castle, West Wick on to Yatton, Clevedon and Nailsea.
Obviously (?), this new X7 follows the route of Crosville's 16. The MID BLUE line is the extension of First's service 3, starting on the same day, but no timetables are yet available.

Of course, one reason for Crosville's retrenchment could be the increase of work for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. A blog comment from last Tuesday offers this opinion.
But the Hinkley Point work is in partnership with First Bus, the company that benefits significantly from Crosville's retrenchment.

Might there still be a bit of a whiff?
We shall see!

 Next Weston rail blog : Friday 17th March 


  1. Really FBB? A very disappointing bit of innuendo, substituting opinion over fact.

    Some things that you really should have highlighted.

    It was Crosville who were very much the aggressors in starting up the 103 and 105; the latter to such an extent that First couldn't make it pay. Two operators on such a route was never sustainable.

    Then CMS moved in on the 107 - only last year. Also, there has been a certain amount of cat and mouse on the 3/103 - all coming well after the SPS deal was struck with First Group so the inference that it has been the driver behind CMS's retrenchment seems at odds with the chronology of the SPS deal and CMS's previous expansions.

    The most glaring omission is, of course, that the owner has been summoned in front of the TC. The severity of what is alleged isn't in the public domain but it COULD see a substantial curtailment in CMS's O license.

    So factor in that, a business that has been competing with new fleet on a major new route (107), a reduction in tendered services from the local authority plus the demands of the SPS operation, perhaps that might be more of a story rather than FBB's contention that iffy deals in darkened rooms have provided the impetus for these changes.

  2. Not at all sure why I should not be allowed an opinion.

    Likewise I would NEVER hazard a guess as to what MIGHT be the problem with the Traffic Commissioners.

    Re the 105. If First couldn't make it pay, then why did they re-introduce it. Rat odour confirmed!

    All the other points that Anon makes have been covered adequately in the blogs.

  3. Oh come on! There's having an opinion and there's making comment that is straying close to libel - this series of posts is straying dangerously close to the later.

    Your constant references to smelling a rat are unfair to both operators. The Oxford University Press dictionary defines the phrase as meaning "suspect trickery or deception" - that's a bit stronger than having an opinion Peter and you know it. If you want to make accusations of deception, then have the decency to do so - enough of this rat odour rubbish.

  4. Surely there is a contradiction here. No one is suggesting that you opine on the travails of CMS and the traffic commissioner. However, you feel quite empowered to suggest collusion between two operators?

    The fact that CMS are subject to an invite from the TC is something that can be reported as it is in the public domain and that, subject to what happens subsequently, this may influence the business decisions of Mr Pratt? Arguably, this is important contextual information and doesn't need to be salacious speculation. Instead, you have elected to make other "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" inferences.

    The reintroduction for the 5 may be down to two main reasons. Retaliation for the 107 being introduced is one. Also, perhaps First have got wind of the impending visit to the TC, can sense an ailing CMS and so force the issue. Remember that First reintroduced a number of previously withdrawn Cornish services once they scented blood in the water.

    Whilst you may have noted the various changes "adequately", your central thrust is that the withdrawal of competitive services is inextricably linked to the SPS deal. The fact that many of the competitive activities have occurred subsequent to that JV being announced does not seem to figure in your contention, and neither does the invite for tea and scones with the TC.

    Now, who knows the truth of the matter but at the moment, the blog seems to ignore (TC) or gloss over the facts (competitive incursions well after the JV was formed) and instead suggest suggest it's a clandestine deal forged in the smoky back rooms of Weston super Mare for which there is no evidence. Alt facts?

  5. FBB wouldn't have a blog if he stuck to the facts.

  6. Remember also that the CMS/First partnership is with First South West, not First West of England. Might be part of the same group but they have different management and different approaches.