23 June 2012

Saving a bus or three

First are altering a few of their timetables on the 22 July.

We have had an in depth look at the 2 already so lets have a quick look at the 3 which is one of the main routes for First with strong competition from Plymouth Citybus 26.

First 3

The new timetables are here on the forthcoming timetables page (If you are viewing this page after the 22nd July then the timetable is available on my archives here on Plymothian Transit Extra.)

The main change is the reduction in the early morning service which until 08:00 is new every 15 mins  down from the previous 10 min frequency. The day time service is still listed as “at frequent intervals”

fdc3 new


First 7

Things are a little bit different here as the early morning frequency remains at every 20 mins. The bad news – the day time service is reduced from 3 and hour to 2 at half hour frequency:


First 15

Significant in that its the last surviving new route introduced during the last bus wars when First had a major push against Citybus. To be fair its probably only survived because it ended up replacing the old 7 route to Glenholt as a useful link between the City Centre and Derriford Hospital.

You can probably guess that the service is being reduced in a similar fashion to the 7 from 3 an hour to 2 during the day time. At least both will be serving Mainstone rather than being turned at Asda…


Its quite a sad sight compared to the timetable introduced way back in October 2009 when it has a 15 minute frequency and even a Sunday service every 30 minutes.

Elsewhere on the net

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  • News has finally broken that First West Yorkshire is to redeploy its Wright Streetcars on the long standing route 72. Historically this offered a modest 30 minute frequency, but it has now been developed to run every 8 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime Public Transport Experience
  • Today we bring you the first photograph of one of Norfolk Green's stunning new Alexander Dennis Enviro400's - SN12EHM. Andys Bus Blog
  • Totnes depot memories. TGP


  1. It is a real shame about the 15 reduction to half hour between 10am and 3pm but what makes it worsr is that the 15 runs at pretty much the same time as 84/86 between City/Derriford and vise versa. If thius is to stay First need to look at retiming to provide 15 minute fequency between the routes!!!

    I think Citybus will go the same way later in the year to be fair!!!

  2. Really, I would make the 5A/, 8/9,21,23/24,26,40/41,44/44A every 12 minutes. First did this with their PR1 a while ago, and I'm sure 99% of passengers won't notice an extra two minutes.

    I (and several others) have mentioned what we'd do with the 40/41/42/44/A etc before, so I won't repeat it again.
    Unfortunately, I can see the overhaul of Citybus services later in the year being very depressing to read. Speaking of that - anything further on the changes to the 28s,29,61/62 etc that are due at the end of July or have they been postponed until September?

  3. I think readers are taking the Citybus service review the wrong way. I don't see cuts or frequency reductions, I believe we will see new routes, re-timing of some routes (as the drivers complain about some route times), and expansion. Just a matter of waiting till they announce their plans.

  4. I have to say I agree with you there. With a new boss in charge and all the signs that First are in retreat (nationally as well as locally) I think confidence is high at Citybus so will be looking at new opportunities possibly. I dont see any major cutbacks at all

  5. I understand this change is only for the summer school vacation for these services. Statistical evidence shows a patronage drop over school holidays on town services.

  6. the citybus service review is to retime routes that are tight on time to give drivers more time to do the route in comfort for the passenger. there will be no cuts, if anything there will b more routes. there is even a 'chatterbus' which will visit parts of plymouth to allow residents of that particular community to voice their opinions on their local buses. Its all good.

  7. I hope the First cut backs are only for summer holidays...If Citybus decide to go to other places where First are now...First will have to retaliate even if they are on the backfoot at the moment

  8. I really do hope the timetable change won't lead to cut services; Citybus did mention late last year they would be re-timing the northern services along with the 61/62. I'm interested in what changes they're making to the 28s which are due in about a month.

    I find the timings for the 20 around Woodford to be very tight - you only need to be held up at Marsh Mills for a few minutes and with the appalling car parking in Woodford it easily adds up to a 5-minute delay by the time it gets to Strode Road/'Plympton Central' etc.

    I also find the 20 serving Steer Park to be a massive waste of fuel, literally no-one uses it! Everyone obviously gets on the 21, so the 20 quite often just sits at Sandy Road and not bothering with Steer Park at all - I have seen this more than once. I would love Citybus to return it to St Marys Bridge, though I'm going off-topic here.

    I've heard several rumours that the new routes will compete with First, though not in Torpoint. Rumours are on the Citybus Facebook page of a service to Ivybridge to compete with the X80/180, though we'll have to wait and see!

  9. The only change to the 28 is that it will run via Plumer Road on the return from Derriford Hospital, instead of the loops around Crownhill. Hopefully this will help the service to be more reliable.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. It may be coincidence, but the timetable changes coincide with the Olympics. Many First drivers will be at the games operating the First contract. There may not be sufficient drivers left in Plymouth to maintain the current timetable.

  12. I must admit the thought of the Olympics and First being short on resources had crossed my mind too!!! Hopefully the cutbacks are only temporary...of course with rumours of Citybus expanding into traditional First areas, eg Ivybridge goung around First may well need additional resources to step up their network coverage in Plymouth... surely they would have to retaliate with a route of their own on a Citybus route...if so where ??? They may well struggle in areas where they launched then left recently...so perhaps Whitleigh (44)/Efford(8/9) or North Prospect (35) what does everyone think ?? Perhaps a relaunch in Plymouth to replace the now dead duck UGOBUS ???

  13. First have had it in Plymouth - sorry but they have, they're making a huge loss year on year and with their UgoBus brand failing, I can't see them starting up anything "commercially" viable.

    Give it to the end of the year and they'll be gone, Stagecoach aren't interested in their operation, if it wasn't for the trains, they'd have pulled out months, if not years ago.

    The First cutback aren nothing to do with the Olympics, that's just a cover up - they're loss making, thats a FACT.

  14. I hope First don't go...not unless they can at least sell to another operator (not Go Ahead!!) Without competition Go Ahead I am sure would slam fares up!!!

  15. First D & C may make a loss bu from what I understand the Plymouth operation is the part of the business that does make money!

  16. The Plymouth sector is the loss making one, it does not make money!

  17. Business as Usual from a Drivers POV. Altho some Clerical/Admin Work has been moved to Southampton from Chelson resulting in Redundancies.

    Don't think we should 'all' be so Hasty in our Remarks!

    Never Assume

  18. Personally I echo the last comment. As last comment is from driver hopefully they should know... so from drivers point of view is the cuts to UGO 7 and 15 etc permanent or just for summer Hols/Olympic period.

    Onlt thing I will say is with Citybuses plans to extend network to Ivybridge etc surely First need to fight back with some competing routes to Plymouth estates and fast ??? What do you think???

  19. i see the old "slate first" gang ie ex first drivers are back on here.
    on another note the 180 is a tendered route so the council may withdraw the funding if citybus go there

  20. For refrence, "New Deckers" isn't a bus driver.

  21. For reference as well I am not an ex First employee... nor a disgruntled passenger, in fact I use First far more than I do any other bus company in Plymouth as I do prefer them...I just worry for them that they seem to be on the back foot, continually chopping routes and reducing frequencies and I think they need to do something quick in the face of what seems to be growing competition from Go Ahead!

  22. First should be looking to revive the Ugobus concept in Plymouth and reverse this withering decline of the past year or 2. PCB don't have the network they once had and there are real opportunities for First to increase their market share in the City. They should start by looking to shore up their traditional operating areas, re-brand and then strike out into new areas. Bringing back some cross city services would I think be welcomed. If they continue as they have been doing there will be nothing left in 12 months. As a group First aren't in decline but the policy seems to be one of investing in their stronger areas as is the case with Southampton currently. I'd like to see First take on GoAhead across the city with large scale competition, increasing services, driving down fares, creating good competition for all.

  23. God I wish First would bring back their UGOBUS network...their services when they had them to the likes of Honicknowle (11) Plymoton (12) and Southway (17) were far superior to the Citybus offerings. I hope they choose to revitalise their Plymouth city services next as they have in Southampton... a good reliable rival to the expensive Go Ahead services is what Plymouth needs.. just at the moment First look like pulling out rather than expanding!! Come on First put some effort in!!!

  24. I have to say Firsts 15 is a bit of a mystery to me. I presume it's main role is to provide a quick link between Derriford Hospital and the City Centre, in replacement of the old 7. It always seems to me for people in Estover that the 15 doesn't take the quickest route into the City. It looks to have its routes in the old PCB 43 from the mid 1980's which ran like a 15 to Mainstone but then continued to the Industrial Estate finishing up at Glenholt. That was an hourly service and predates the PCB 50. I think Firsts 15 would be better off running like the 1988 45 to Mainstone via Higher Compton, Austin Farm and Leigham and Estover but it would need to run at least every 15 minutes. The route via the Bluebird is still in my view quicker than the 50 via Embankment Road.

  25. Cross city links are the way to go and take on Go Ahead/Citybus...they seriously neeed to increase their presence along the northern corridor and advertise fares on bus stops as on most fares here they are cheaper. Bring back the Woolwell (7) every half hour along with say Mainsone (15) every 20 or 30 mins dependant on time of day. With this and the Tavi buses they could have buses between Derriford?Crownhill/Mutley/City every 10 mins if they plan it right with minimal investment!!!

  26. PCB are maintaining competition with First in Devonport, Keyham and Barne Barton with the 26; in Saltash with the 43A and in Plymstock with the 5/5A. First's only service out of their traditional operating area is the 15 running through Estover to Mainstone (the latter area abandoned now by PCB).

    Options for First are to bring back some of the old Ugobus routes into PCB areas or come up with some new routes into the real PCB heartlands - Ernesettle, Whitleigh, Southway and Plympton.

    Alternatively what about looking at the lesser served areas, Beacon Park, Holly Park, Tamerton Foliot, Eggbuckland, Austin Farm, Lower Compton, Millbay, the Hoe and Barbican, Woodford and Colebrook. These areas aren't served by a huge number of buses so a more frequent simpler network here could do well.

  27. I don't think First will bring back old UGOBUS routes like the 11 to Honicknowle or 17 to soukjthway as they lost money before hence their withdrawal, I think their best option is to start new cross city routes that go through Citybus heartlands, perhaps Whitleigh - Derriford - Mutley - City, or maybe Leigham - Crownhill - Mutley - City..maybe also Beacon Park, St Pancras Ave, Peverell, Citycentre via Milehouse/train station


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