Friday 5 August 2022

More, Much More For More

 Goodbye Yellow Buses

Yellow Buses (formerly Bournemouth Corporation Transport, next owned by RATP and lately under a Management buyout) closed its doors yesterday evening. Hopes of finding a buyer, reputedly National Express, were dashed and closure was then inevitable.

GoAhead's More Bus (formerly Wilts and Dorset, formerly Hants and Dorset) had already promised to provide replacement services if the sad (???) inevitability became inevitable. What has surprised bus watchers is the speed at which this replacement network has been publicised.

Note that there are no changes to any current Morebus services, the replacements are all additional to the present network.

You would think that Morebus has been planning it for some time!

On Wednesday evening, just 24 hours BEFORE Yellow Buses died, More were advertising the replacement routes and frequencies, although not the actual timetables.
Following the news that Yellow Buses has entered administration and will cease trading later this week We are stepping in to run more services across Bournemouth from Saturday 6 August.

We understand that there will be many residents across our region who will be impacted by this, and we are pleased to announce we are running the following routes.  However, it is important to note that these are not the same timetables and in some instances, the route has been slightly altered.  These timetables are the basic frequencies we can offer to begin with, using available buses and drivers.  We will review if we can offer better frequencies in the near future once we have the resources to do so.

We have moved additional vehicles to the area, in order to provide the service needed - including 15 brand new Euro 6, low emissions, buses that Morebus and Bournemouth University have invested in. These were delivered ahead of schedule and are ready for the road - so that our current fleet can be used to fill the gaps left by Yellow Buses.

In essence from tomorrow, More will be running a very respectable service on all Yellow Bus commercial routes except those already operated in competition with More.

After the sad conflagration which destroyed Bournemouth's iconic double deck bus station in 1976 ...
... Hants and Dorset moved their departures to "The Triangle", a little outside the central shopping area.
From this cramped site ...
... buses ran very frequently between Bournemouth and Poole. 

With the onset of privatisation and deregulation, competition crept into the main routes that ran parallel to the coast. Although some of the fiercest (and self-destructive) competition has been reduced, the situation until yesterday's demise was like this:-

Morebus ran frequently between Bournemouth and Poole, as ever, but extended services into traditional Bournemouth Corporation territory.

Here, in the red and blue corner ...
...  is an extract from the current Morebus route m1 and m2 timetable.
The m1 route to Castle Point and the Hospital is also Yellow Buses route 3.

But, in the Yellow Corner ...
... the former municipality still intrudes on the Poole corridor with a bus every 30 minutes - it used to be more frequent.
From Saturday, the services east from Bournemouth are mostly unchanged ...
... but the replacements will go no further east than Somerford and will not run between Bournemouth and Poole.
Passengers for New Milton are directed to the current Morebus X1 and X2.

First pushed its 1a well into Morbus territory from April 2019.
Perhaps Buster Bear frightened small children rather than encouraging them to travel with mumsy!

Yellow Bus 3 via Charminster Road ...
... is covered by Morebus m1 (also via Charminster Road DARK BLUE below) so will not be replaced.
Whilst at Castlepoint and the Hospital, we note that Morebus will be running a version of routes 2 and 4 as a circular ...
... with a few loose ends not replaced, or covered by other services.

Yellow 5 and 5a are replaced by something very similar ....
... and the revised service 6 from More ...
... loses some of its Yellow "country" ramblings.
More will be running limited journeys to the airport on 737 ...
... a direct replacement for an equally limited Yellow Bus service.
... but not the 727 to Christchurch.
Were these tendered journeys?

There are numerous other routes, shown in grey on the current (until this evening) Yellow Bus route map, which fbb assumes are tendered services. Morebus is not, as yet, offering to replace those.

Under the circumstances this represents a gargantuan effort by Morebus - to which can be added their offer to take on Yellow Bus drivers at an improved rate of pay.

For those employees who previously worked for Yellow Buses, and who are interested in joining Morebus we’d love to hear from you.  Morebus is increasing its rate of pay from this coming Sunday 7 August, to £13.00 an hour. And, for a limited period, we will continue to offer our £2,000 welcome bonus for anyone who joins with a PCV licence. We will be announcing details on Thursday 4 August of our recruitment centre which will be open from Friday morning, where we will ask you to turn up in person if possible. If you’re away on holiday you can still apply in the normal way apply here.

There can be no doubt that Morebus have had a plan in place for some time, just in case. Nevertheless the vast majority of the distraught bus passengers of Bournemouth will only be without their services for one day.

Well done GoAhead in the shiny skin of Morebus!

A Brief History (c/o Morebus)

The origins of Morebus can be traced back to 1916, when a bus company called Bournemouth & District Motor Services was founded; this became Hants & Dorset Motor Services in July 1920 as the network of routes expanded. Hants & Dorset was always highly regarded for offering a reliable and friendly service. The Southern Railway bought into the company in the 1930s and Hants & Dorset became state-owned in 1948.

From 1 January 1969 Hants & Dorset became part of the National Bus Company, and in 1972 the bus livery was changed from the longstanding and familiar green to poppy red. Hants & Dorset was broken up into smaller units from April 1983, one of which was the Wilts & Dorset Bus Company whose area of operation included the present morebus network and sister company Salisbury Reds in Wiltshire.

The Wilts & Dorset Bus Company was bought by its local management team in 1987, and has been part of the Go-Ahead Group since August 2003.

The More brand, with its distinctive blue livery was first seen on the Poole to Bournemouth m1 and m2 routes in 2004 when an investment of £4 million was made in a fleet of 30 new Volvo single-deck buses, and has subsequently been rolled out across the network.

Please note : the second part of "The Village" will be incorporated in tomorrow's blog.

    Next Variety blog : Saturday 6th August 


  1. Re the demise of Yellow Buses:
    The change with Morebus’s summer timetable change on Saturday 28 May by extending their M1 service from Castlepoint to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) did Yellow Buses no favour. Yellow’s responded by introducing a 3X variation to their route 3 Westbourne to the RBH - going direct from Charminster to the RBH.
    Yellow’s made further changes with the 3 and 3X as late as the 24th July when they concentrated on the 3X with some journeys operating to Poole General Hospital.
    The rest is history.

  2. Regarding the three tendered routes:
    18 Bournemouth to Broadstone,
    33 Bournemouth to Christchurch and
    36 Kinson via Bournemouth to Talbot View.
    There is no official news on these routes, although Morebus’s MD Andrew Wickham in a TV interview indicated they hoped to take on these routes depending on todays driver recruitment event.

    1. Morebus Facebook page was updated about 14:30 to say they would run the 18,33,36 from tomorrow. Therefore the recruiment must be going well. Somewhere it said they needed 62 staff extra and may well take extra.

    2. According to the Bournemouth Daily Echo they've taken on over 100.

  3. A little bit more of Yellows history. After the council sold them the first owner was actually Transdev. They did a huge network recast which resulted in a focus on core routes reducing the amount of side road activity the council run operation had done - it had critics but it was very successful - excellent publicity and a strong brand with popular routes that served people well. Whenever a skirmish flared up between YB and Wilts and Dorset (later More) it tended to be W&D aborting with their tail between their legs. But after an asset swap operation YB ended up in the hands of RATP - initially it was as was but perhaps to a lesser extent - innovation and marketing seemed to start declining, and morebus made inroads into Yellows heartlands with their simple and very successful m1 and m2 routes. This was accelerated massively when a change of MD at YB occurred. In their infinite wisdom RATP promoted the accountant to the top job. This to me led to the fatal blow to Yellows - a massively unpopular and nonsensical network recast with a hugely confusing naming convention and traditional links removed. Buses were grouped almost randomly into "lines" - names linked to where some of those buses went. Want a bus to Poole from Southbourne? You need a P. P for Poole? No P for Priory, Christchurch Priory. In the other direction. Although some P buses didn't go to Christchurch at all, and the bus that got nearest to the priory was on a different line altogether. Bus to the Hospital? It's an R (For Royal), although again, plenty of other buses went there too. Kinson? It's V of course (for Village, although I doubt anyone has referred to Kinson as a village for at least half a century). The whole thing was a mess, and perhaps it would have just resulted in a decline of users in an monopoly, but with morebus being the competition and being exceptionally well run (where sensible bus numbering and routes taking people to popular destinations are a given) it resulted in a mass exodus and the start of yellows posting losses in the millions rather than a modest profit.

  4. Continuing from above...

    The accountant MD was resigned and RATP bought in new bosses (who eventually led a buyout) who immediately reversed pretty much the entire recast but the damage was done. They made some odd decisions too - persevering with eight colour coded core routes (later seven, then six, but keeping eight colours in the logo) making the outside of the buses an ugly multicoloured mess and a confusing route proposition. Having a route 1, a 1a and a 1b is fair enough in competition with more's simple m2, but when the 1 could be Poole to Bournemouth, Poole to Christchurch, Bournemouth to Tuckton, Poole to Tuckton or Bournemouth to Christchurch it suddenly makes the turn up and go service a lot more confusing then it needs to be. They continued the trend of purchasing and selling buses left right and centre resulting in an absolute hotch-potch of vehicles that must have been a nightmare for engineering to stay on top of - a far cry from the early eighties where every bus was exactly the same except some had vinyl seats upstairs and a detachable roof... They couldn't even decide what to call the relaunched open-tops - the marketeers "Buster's Beach Bus" (BBB) or the traditionalists Route 12 - in the end they decided to do one or the other or both at the same time - good luck to the tourist working that one out! The publicity and innovation was there but no real sense as to how to make money and push back more/GoAhead. When morebus extended the m1 to Bournemouth Hospital recently (arguably because of Yellows introducing their fast 3x to the hospital while both companies had their eye on a potential windfall of government money for a direct hospital link) it provoked an angry response from Yellows management in terms of a highly critical press release stating that morebus were going against what the bus companies were being urged to do in terms of co-operating, and that as a local company they couldn't afford to compete - it was probably the first sign that they were in real trouble and the end was nigh.

    As a Bournemouth lad buses to me were Yellow, and that was it. Very sad to see them go. But with all the above it was clear their best days were far behind them.

  5. Yellow Buses had been in financial decline for some time. The problem is that you don't have the money to pay to close down and so you have to continue until the money is almost exhausted, but not quite and then the insolvency people can use government funds

    Morebus knew it was coming and the pdf files in the news article are dated July 22nd. The accompanying map has a title of Grizzly Network. The timetable pdfs have route numbers of GB1 ect. May be a Grizzly Bus project? The files in the main pages have been renamed.

    1. Map title has now been changed to Network Map North & East Conurbation. The timetables including the tendered routes are pre-fixed GB.. However the tendered routes are dated August but shown on the map - my local route the 36 has an unchanged timetable.

    2. Should have said NOT included on Network map.

    3. Good Spot - I'm guessing Grizzly was a secret code name as Grizzly Bear... Buster Bear (Yellows mascot as shown in one of FBB's pictures)

  6. Yellow Coaches has now been sold to Xelabus

  7. Grizzly is in Christchurch, New Zealand served by bus route 1 with three others. And there is a blog site grizzly bus on Facebook.