02 July 2011

The battle for Barne Barton

I have had to resort to an email posting as I have technical difficulties at the moment so am back on the wife's laptop. Should have a new laptop of my own within the next week or so, then hopefully I can get back to normal!

Its been a few weeks since First increased the competition for Barne Barton against Citybus. Since the 3 was increased First have reduced the top fares which made them cheaper than Citybus, especially coming straight after Citybus put their fares up. So how are things going?

I spent a very pleasant evening this week at the Union Rooms with an excellent curry and a pint or few of Cider. With a window seat it was a great place to view the 3s and 26's going past. I was surprised to see that the 26 was still quite busy. Certainly there were plenty of people on the top deck of most buses that went past. The 3s which went by also seemed to be busy enough. 

There was of course one big problem with my very unscientific viewing. Citybus 26s were very visible with their smart Volvo double deckers. First were less so with their usual collection of Volvos and Dennis Darts. Many of the Citybus Volvo's also carry advertised proclaiming a special 7 day ticket for the 26 which I think was about £10, with the advert saying it made Citybus the cheapest option. There is nothing on this on the Citybus web site so I guess you can only buy it from the driver. Is it really cheaper than First though? I am sure someone will be able to confirm!

It has to be said that Citybus have the smartest presence on the route and their bus side marketing is especially impressive compared with the fairly anonymous First buses. With the effort they have been putting into the service recently its a shame they are not shouting it on the side of their buses. 

Go Ahead as a group seem to understand the idea of using their buses to sell their services rather then promoting other business. Brighton and Hove are great examples of what can be done, if you are prepared to take the risk of loosing external advertising income. 

I dont expect First to give up on the advertising income, but you would hope they could use their own buses a bit more to tell people how good they are. 

There are plenty of passengers about - you just need to make them wait for your bus, and let the competition go by. That applies to both companies. So far, in my view at least, Citybus seem to be doing a slightly better job at this.

This is still a battle worth watching!


because Plymouth needs an anorak or two



  1. There really is no future in head-to-head. Somethings gotta give. The cosy deal between Stagecoach and First in Sheffield - see
    - with more to come on Monday.
    Suffice it to say, frequencies have been reduced even (slightly!) on the core of the route.

  2. Can confirm the citybus 26 7day ticket is 9.50

  3. a first cityzone week ticket is £10-50 and the zone has been increased to cover st budeaux/barne barton having driven the 3's i would say they are no busier then normal, as normal first have done poor advertising, for eg st budeaux to barne barton single first 85p go-ahead £1-20!!
    i just dont think plymouth as a whole is big enough to sustain 2 operators on one corridor with the exception of the derriford to town one, even along wolsley road the 1 and 1a dont really pick up that many, of course its the most direct route from saltash.

  4. Thanks anon - I was right in thinking First were cheaper on normal fares. I was in town again today and noted that the 7 day ticket on Citybus 26 is £9.50 which is cheaper than First. I only noted the advert on one bus today so maybe its not as widely advertised as I thought, I probably saw the same bus several times the other night.
    I observed all 3 and 26s for 40 mins this lunch time - Citybus clearly were carrying more into town than First. Going the other way seemed more equal!

  5. Difference is the citybus £9.50 ticket can only be used on 26...First Week £10.50 ticket is for whole cityzone...so btr value!!!!

    First need to increase frequency on northern corridor... where they also cheaper and advertise their fares on bus stops!!!!! No 15 extend to Leigham....route Leigham/Msinstone/Derriford/Crownhill/Mutley/City every 15 mins til 9pm like the plymstock routes!!!

  6. First D&C won't Win, Because they Don't Advertise!! They'll drop back to the 'Historical' Strong Points (Saltash + Plymstock) and Use these Routes to Subsidise the Loss Makers.

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  8. AS long as they keep the 15...that one must be making a profit!!! I would extend this route to include Leigham on 15 min frequency and perhaps run 30 min frequency from 7.00 to 9.00pm.

  9. Well I cant see an extension to Leigham as it would prove awkward to serve as well as Mainstone, but an extension of the evening service would be very welcome!
    Its certainly getting a lot busier these days than it used to be. I think the recent Citybus fares increase has helped!

  10. What would you say the percentage of passengers are following Citybus incease between 15 and 50???

    If First passenger numbers are increaseing then extending into Leigham against the 50 could be good and the xtra income could pay for hourly evening service say between 7.00 and 10.00 ... if they could push Citybus out of Estover they'd have whole area to themselves!!!

  11. Not so sure its a simple as all that. The 15 does feel a lot busier these days especially between Derriford and the City Centre. I think the only way the 15 could serve Leigham as well is if they made it a circular and it continued into the City. This would compete directly with the 50. It would also make timekeeping a nightmare - the 50 has problems keeping to time through Cattedown.


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