09 January 2013

Plymothian Transit Predicts…

so, what does 2013 hold transport wise for Plymouth? Despite my well documented lack of success in guessing what the future holds its now time to have another stab…

Plymouth Citybus

  • The swoops livery will reign supreme and will become the dominant livery in the fleet by the end of the year. Dare I suggest there may be one or two variations by the end of the year too?
  • New buses: We will be seeing new buses for Citybus this year. Even better than that we will be seeing new double deckers for Citybus for the first time for years! This is not really a prediction as it has been confirmed that new DDs are on their way, we just dont know for sure what they will be yet. Being Go Ahead it will be either Volvo / Wright or ADL Enviro 400s. Its not yet known if this is in place of the 10 Volvo / Wright single deckers which were on order for this year. My prediction is that it is!
  • More double deckers to join the fleet – as well as the new ones there are to be another 8 “nearly new” double deckers joining the fleet. No idea as to what these will be or indeed where they will be coming from.
  • Route branding. I dont think that there will be any major route branding scheme as such but I can see more buses receiving promotional lettering for their routes during the coming year. I am not aware of anything planned at the moment but the new boss is ex Stagecoach Devon who were pretty keen on self promotion on their buses.
Plymouth Citybus 144 WA08LDZ
will we see more like this in 2013?
  • Buses out: I know this has been a feature of my predictions for a few years now but surely the Student Link Volvos have to go at some stage soon. Their high capacity is saving them at the moment but these buses are well past their best and not in keeping with the image that Citybus are trying to project. Its clearly not worth spending money repainting them so I am sure they will go this year. As much as I like the the older Volvos as an enthusiast, its getting embarrassing to see them in normal service. (A bit like the good old VRTs with Western National – loved them but many of them were in shocking condition at the end!).
  • Routes: We will probably continue to see the network evolve over the coming year as the company looks to build rather than cutback. More cross city routes, which I guess will be marketed as such in a much clearer way rather than just joined in the city centre. If the company can get the buses I can see more out of town routes springing up. The Ivybridge service will continue, possibly expanding  as First cut back their Ivybridge routes?
  • Citycoach – there will be continued investment with one or two new (or nearly new) coaches joining the fleet to replace older coaches.


  • This is more difficult. 6 months ago I would have confidently predicted that First would sell up and move out of Plymouth. I am still convinced that they would indeed sell if the opportunity arose but I am less than convinced that there is a buyer out there that would want to take on Go Ahead. I dont think that Stagecoach will move in. It is clear that First would have liked to have made more disposals across the group by now than they had managed so far. The knock on effect of the North Devon decision still rumbles on? I am duty bound to make a prediction here so … I think that First will remain in Plymouth.
  • Having said that it wont be a big priority within the Southern region so any incoming buses will be transfers from within the group. I predict that the older K reg Olympians will go during the year, but a mixture of more Tridents and possibly newer Olympians will arrive.
  • Repaints: We will see the new First livery being rolled out slowly across the fleet. I still think we will see the Torpoint Tridents repainted this year – but will probably receive the new group livery rather than anything specific to Torpoint. I think we will finally see some form of local fleetname, probably First Devon rather than Plymouth. I would like to see more branding added to the Park & Ride fleet but I predict that they will just retain SHUTTLE names. I hope I am wrong!
First 33658 SN12ADX
  • Routes. The 88 will be cut back, but they wont pull out of Ivybridge completely. We may see more action on the Tavistock services with maybe a greater push to promote the service in face of competition with Jacketts? I don't see any major changes to Plymouth services although there may be a few reductions in frequency on some routes.

Target etc

  • I don't see much changing to be honest. The routes will see changes as the council dictates but overall the amount of work for Target will remain pretty much as it is now. Fleet wise I see more Darts arriving and maybe some Solos leaving? The purple livery will disappear in favour of white and green.
  • Jacketts will start to see the new 85 service gain customers and will up the frequency to every hour fairly soon. That's when First will react!

Western Greyhound:

  • I can see a stronger year for them this year after the difficulties with Cornwall County Council cutbacks. There may well be more cutbacks in Cornwall but some routes will be improved. Plymouth may not see many changes as routes continue pretty much the same.
  • Vehicle wise I am pretty sure we will see more investment in the fleet this year as the Mercedes Vario replacement restarts after a gap. I dont think that it will be just Solos. There have been suggestions that a new livery is on the cards too!
Western Greyhound 582 WK03DAD 15 December 2010


(I almost hesitate to say these as they are pretty much the same as last year!)

  • Railway – more of the same. Fares up. lots of talk, not a lot of action. Talk about a new route bypassing Dawlish – it wont happen. More talk about reopening the Tavistock line – maybe – but not for years. 
  • Great Western. The franchise system will get going again during the year and a new franchise will be awarded during the year but wont actually start this year? I still think that First Group will retain it though.
  • Plymouth Airport: Lots of talk and arguments about the future but it wont reopen. The city council are key the the debate but I dont think they really have the vision or expectation that the airport could reopen. Sad.
  • Real Time Displays. I does indeed seem that we will finally see a new real time bus tracking system introduced in Plymouth which should see a much more reliable real time timetable display available at most bus stops. All buses in Plymouth should get the system and therefore be tracked properly. How many bus stops will actually get the new displays remains to be seen, but it should result in much better live tracking on mobile phone apps. Improvements are on the way, I just hope that this time they do match expectations and promises!

Plymothian Transit

  • It should be fairly easy to get to more events and take more photos this year as I did so little of this in 2012. I do now carry a camera with me most days so that should help once the days start to draw out. The simple aim for 2013 is to get 4 or 5 postings a week. I’d rather post better less often than go for daily posts when there is nothing to say! The blog / family balance is very different this year than it has been! I am seeing more comments than ever before and getting more info / photos/ suggestions than previously which is brilliant so I hope that this continues through 2013. I also hope to include more historical posts this year.

Well thats my predictions for 2013. Knowing you all as I do I just know that many of you will disagree with much of what I have written so feel free to add your comments! Is there anything I have missed? What do you predict for 2013? Will you do better than me? (quite likely!)


Sorry - I cant add the usual links to other blogs ate as usual as for some reason at this moment in time I cant access my Google Reader account. There are plenty sat there waiting to be shared so hopefully I will regain access tomorrow and post them then!


  1. Can't disagree with most of your predictions, except one. I predict FDC will be sold as a whole company to Stagecoach, with consequent fleet investment.

  2. If I were First I would hang on in there in Ivybridge...from what I see their 88 is more popular than Citybus offering.

    First in the main need to do one of 2 things this year either Rejig their network like in Southampton etc with more cross city routes or sell up. Personally I think it will be the first option as I don't see any interest from the likes of Stagecoach!!!

    I disagree re Jacketts 85, I think it will be gone by the summer and First won't have to do much at all.. It was a nice idea but really for commuters £5 daily fare say 5 days a week £25 for 2 hourly service or £26 for First Week ticket, 15 minute service.. not difficult choice. Likewise shoppers extra £1 fare to First for vastly superior frequency!! Can't see Jacketts service working out!

    1. The Jacketts service is interesting. For commuters - if there is a suitable bus at the time they need it then 2 hour frequency is not such an issue. I am sure Jacketts could easily introduce a weekly ticket at a competitive price if their passengers ask for it.

  3. I thought that it had been stated that the First P&R Enviro 400s were going to Manchester and being replaced by new ones, hence the current retention of Shuttle names? I predict new ones will have more appropriate branding, perhaps even being in a different colour version of the new livery (as has heppened elsewhere).

    I predict that First Hampshire & Dorset puts new buses onto the X53 and transfers the current X53 Volvo deckers to Plymouth for use on the X80.

    Anon 08:16 - First won't "rejig their network". It's hardly a comprehensive city-wide network anyway - Citybus provides that. A Southampton style rejig would therefore mean competition with Citybus and they've just tried that with Ugobus. It won't happen again.

    1. I had forgotten about the supposed new buses replacing the existing ones. If I recall it correctly the comments suggested it was about to happen - and therefore should have already happened by now? If anyone else has any info on this it would be welcomed! As for the X80 it has been cring out for decent buses for years. I think H & D are due new buses this year - but not heard anything specific about the X53. It would be nice though...

  4. First definitely need to put newer vehicles on the X80, some of the existing vehicles are really poor both mechanically and bodywise. A journey of nearly two hours needs comfortable seats not the current lumps of plywood.
    I thought that they were going for local branding- why not bring back the WN fleetname? Try telling somebody to catch the First bus to Plymouth when they're in a Stagecoach dominent area:-)

  5. If I were First I would look to bring back the old no.7 Woolwell to Plymstock cross city route...this would beef up their presence along the nortern corridor with the 15 etc. They could then remove the 84/86 from Woolwell speeding up journey time in face of competition from Jacketts and taking out the unpopular diversion!!!

    1. The Woolwell problem is one that has never really been successfully sorted. Just about every permuation has been tried, but I agreee its not a popular diversion off the Tavi routes. The big problem is that Citybus have made big improvements in their Derriford - City route (42s) where previously First pretty much had the edge over this busy section. Thats makes it less likely First will increase their presence on this corridor

  6. I agree - the Student Link B10Ms really are on their last legs. I'm sure it won't be long before they leave us. I also hope we finally get rid of the N-reg SLFs; while there are some good ones (9 and 12), most of them are utter cr*p and have also outstayed their welcome.

    The swoops livery I'm sure will remain; with perhaps one or two *minor* tweaks.

    My guess is also that the new DDs will have replaced an order for ten B7RLEs. I'm sure the eight secondhand/nearly new DDs will see off all six Student Link B10Ms plus the two H-reg ones mainly used on the MX1 (177/178) but do appear on the likes of the 112/120 from time to time.

    I also predict at least one new route launched this year, with quite a fanfare, similar to the 45 launch. Speaking of which, I'm sure this service will remain as it is - I can't see any cutbacks, but then again I can't see any frequency increases.

    'I’d rather post better less often than go for daily posts when there is nothing to say!' - completely agree with this!

    1. 178 was on the 28 this evening!

    2. They must've been short of B7s then as two 27/28 duties are now down as a B7 DD. In November I quite often saw 177/178 on the 1715 from town 21A - gutted I never caught one myself! Would love a trip on 177/8 though - one day I might be lucky!

    3. I had 177 & 178 on the 17? 21B, although the driver on both occasions wasn't impressed someone wanted to get on, bearing in mind there was a 21 and two 21A's already on stand!

      They make for an interesting ride, well kept and quite comfy.

      184 was on the 117 today. That"s un-heard of!

    4. I know exactly the driver youre on about - my opinions on him have been made very clear here before! Put simply, he's not one of my favourite people, and I'm not one of his.

  7. Only thing I disagree with it Western Greyhound and a new livery as they only introduced a new one not long ago because of new buses comming into the fleet! Otherwise I totally agree shame First will keep the train network really cause other companies would invest heavily in are rail network then!

    1. I am sure I have seen something from WG that suggested a refresh at least of the livery was on the cards but I cant see anything to back that up at the moment. May well be wrong!

      As for the rail franchise, its all pretty much decided by government as to what investment will be required rather than the railco itself. First would have to provide whatever the franchise agreement dictates, as indeed would any other railco. Sadly it is all too clear that the government sees the westcountry rail links as very low priority at the moment. The previous government were equally unconcerned so this isn't just a dig at the current lot!

    2. Mark Howarth himself said on this very blog site that the WG image is shortly to be 'refreshed' in response to comments that the paintwork was getting scruffy on some buses.

    3. ha! I knew I had seen it somewhere - didnt think to search on my own blog!

  8. as far as i am aware we are still getting the 20 remaining b7 single decks as well as the new deckers? I may b wrong? maybe brian could comment?

    1. I've heard that we'll be getting ten B7RLEs each year until everything from 1-27 is withdrawn. The ten (I think?) new DDs could see all the N-reg SLFs off depending on how they re-allocate the vehicles following their introduction, the eight secondhand deckers will probably see off 177/178 & 181/2/4/5/6/7.

      Suppose we'll just have to wait and see what turns up!

    2. The original plan was indeed for 10 new SDs for three years so 10 more were due this year. Plans can and do change! Lets hope that we do see all the new buses - I think we deserve them!

  9. I understand the X53 is due to be retendered in May 2013 by Devon CC.

  10. I'm afraid that Mike is incorrect. The only scheduled arrivals to PCB this year will be the ex London stock (for full refurbishment including removal of centre doors) and the eight brand new Enviro 400's. This should see off the remaining D10Ms (buyers waiting). There are no plans to dispose of the older Darts as yet. These may aid further frequency improvements in the City or allow further expansion particularly after the success of the 45 service. Below is from the Ivybridge Gazette

    Bus shuttle is big hit with passengers
    Friday, 11 January 2013

    A BUS service to Plymouth has seen a 50 per cent increase in passengers since its launch in September.
    The Citybus 45 service from Ivybridge to Plymouth saw weekly passenger numbers rocket from 2,378 to 3,623 between September and December, with bus bosses calling the figures ‘incredibly impressive for a new service’.
    The half-hourly provision runs every day from Ivybridge station to Royal Parade in Plymouth and has proved hugely popular with travellers and Citybus alike.
    Marketing co-ordinator for Plymouth Citybus, Hayleigh Beck, said: ‘Since launch, we have seen an increase of over 1,000 passengers which is incredibly impressive for a new service. We are continuing to see a definite increase on passenger numbers every week and are pleased the service is proving so popular.
    ‘One of the reasons we think this is happening is because we recently changed our Plym zone boundaries to include Ivybridge. This change led to a fare decrease for Ivybridge residents across all ticket types. It is rapidly becoming one of our most popular services and we have received, and continue to receive, incredibly positive feedback about it.’
    Councillors and members of the public have all praised the new provision, calling it a vital link to Plymouth and a hugely popular addition to the town.
    County councillor for Ivybridge Roger Croad said: ‘It really is an excellent service, I've traveled on it a couple of times and it’s very efficient and just what the town needed.’
    The mayor of Ivybridge, Cllr Frances Reeve, said: ‘ I've heard nothing but positives about the 45 and am so pleased it’s doing well. I always see queues at the bus stop. It’s a sign that the service is being well used.’
    Despite the provision proving a big hit with travellers, Citybus says it is always looking for ways to increase passenger numbers and improve services. Commercial manager Peter Oliver said: ‘Service 45 has gone from strength to strength. We still have a fair bit to go before we reach our intended customer numbers and would welcome ideas and feedback from our customers on how improve our service.’
    Hayleigh Beck added: ‘We have had the Chatterbus, our community focused vehicle, stationed at Ivybridge Station to provide rail users with the information they require should they wish to use the bus, such as timetables and fare information. Lots of people use the train, but it’s helpful to show them the benefits of using the more regular service.’
    All content © of South Hams Newspapers Ltd unless stated otherwise.

  11. When are the eight Enviros due George and when are the 'new' Presidents to enter service?

    1. I believe the new Enviro 400s are to arrive in April - yesterday I overheard a conversation between two drivers talking about their duties etc and they're due on a 23/24 at around 4pm and take it through on the 8/9 & 23/24s until the end of thee day, they then discussed what duties they were on next week and said 'then it's April they all change again/a big change is coming' - I'm assuming this could be when the new Enviro 400s are doing.

  12. How is the 43a doing?

    1. The 43As B7RLEs were put on the 40/41.
      Three T/X/Y/51-plate SPDs from the 40/41 were placed onto the 50.
      Three 52-plate SPDs were placed alongside existing 52/03 plate SPDs on the 61/62.
      Three 03-plate SPDs from the 61/62s were placed onto the 43A/B, along with a few 54-plate SLFs; I caught the 1140 43B to Milehouse yesterday, was board number 301, vehicle type 'SLF (Ramp). The actual bus was 71 which is normally allocated to board 231.
      I also saw 4, 39, and what I think was 140 on the 43A/B yesterday too, so basically, it has some SPDs from the 61/62, (board nos. 230ish), as said above I've seen at least one 54-plate SLF is allocated to it, though it does normally have 2/3, that's not to say the others aren't assigned, I just haven't seen if they are or not yet. The 43A/B normally seem to have at least one 08 Enviro, and a few mainly N-reg SLFs.


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