31 October 2013

Targeting Target?

There is plenty going on at the moment!

First Devon & Cornwall have announced more fare deals.This time though they are not aimed directly at Plymouth Citybus!

Great news for people wanting to get to Derriford Hospital. Our service 15 runs 6 days a week between Plymouth City Centre, Mutley Plain, Crownhill, Derriford Hospital, University College Marjon, The George Hotel, Roborough and Woolwell. From Monday to Friday it runs up to every 20 minutes and on Saturdays up to every 30 mins. The journey time between The George and Derriford Hospitals main entrance is only 8 minutes. Plus to make travelling to and from the Hospital even better we've launched a super value return ticket.

Its only £1 for a return journey on the 15 between The George Hotel/George Junction Park & Ride

and Derriford Hospital!

www.firstgroup.com ukbus new_news_initiatives attach_1383131169_4941_George 15 leaflet back web.pdf

With parking limited and quite expensive at the Hospital this makes getting to and from the Hospital so much easier and cheaper! (Plus some of the parking is quite far from the hospital entrance and with the 15 you can get on and off right outside the main entrance - to get back to The George it leaves from stand 3). And dont forget parking at The George Junction is free!
To get to Derriford Hospital from The George Junction on service 15 you'll need to catch it from the stops within The George Junction Park & Ride site. And then when you catch the 15 back from Derriford Hospital to the George alight at the stop outside The George Hotel across the road (there is a pelican crossing to help you safely cross the road to get back to your car)
First 30 October 2013 [pdf] 

Although this is welcome I am a bit surprised as it seems to be aimed fairly and squarely at Target Travel who already operate the Derriford Hospital Park & Ride PR3 service. Their service is more frequent and I am not sure of the fare but I think its more than the £1 return that First are offering. I have not seen any publicity for this offer at the hospital yet but I can see it being quite popular. I cant imagine Target will be too happy though, or the council who support the service.

29 October 2013

Purple for a pound

Yesterday was the first full day of the new First network and saw the introduction of the new branding for the new purple 6: IMG_6573
©Richard Smith

40583 meanwhile was still unmarked:


©Richard Smith

I think it looks better unlettered…

Public Transport Experience: How many of today's bus company bosses would be happy to (a) live at the entrance to their depot and (b) have passengers waiting in one of their living rooms?

Andy Bus Blog: This time its from Mildenhall Air Show which attracted huge crowds in the eighties. People came from all over the country in all sorts of odd vehicles.

Public Transport Experience: A lunchtime thunderstorm made everyone not riding on buses at the time dive for the cover of the Museum building. This of course was a clever and successful ruse by the Museum Management to raise sales of refreshments and memorabilia.

Public Transport Experience: When a bus company says that a bus route "has not perfomed up to expectations" the management-speak can have a number of interpretations.

Public Transport Experience: City Bus presents the 5 and 5A on-line timetable as one huge interlocking double lollipop; which is, frankly difficult to follow and potentially befuddling.

28 October 2013

Stormy Start

As I type this there is a major storm brewing so bus travel in the morning could be disrupted. Meanwhile the stormy relationship between bus companies in Plymouth enters its next phase as First launches it new network. We have already seen the fare promotion on the new Purple 6 – so its no surprise to see lower fares on their new 3A…

Our new service 3A launches in Plymouth on Monday 28 October. The 3A provides a link between Plymouth City Centre, Peverell, Honicknowle, West Park and St Budeaux while also giving people the opportunity to connect with Service 3 for onward journeys to Devonport and the City Centre. The 3A will run every 20 minutes during the daytime from Monday - Saturday. The 3 between St Budeaux, Devonport and Plymouth City Centre runs every 10 mins during the daytime from Monday to Saturday, with a half hourly service on Sundays and on week day evenings (hourly after 19:00 on Sundays and 20:00 on weekdays).

We have some great value fares on the 3 and 3A, most extremely competitive:
On the 3A City Centre to/from
Hyde Park or Mutley Plain: single £1.10 or return £1.50
Cherry Tree or Peverell: single £1.30 or return £1.70.
Honicknowle, West Park or St Budeaux: single £1.60 or return £2.10
On the 3 City Centre to/from:
Albert Gate, Devonport Park Avenue or Cumberland Gardens: single £1.30 or return £1.70.
St Budeaux, Camel's Head, HMS Raleigh, St Levan Gate: single £1.60 or return £2.10
And of course we recently reduced the prices of our day, week and month tickets for Plymouth; Day £3 (was £3.50), Week £11 (was £15) and Month £40 (was £60). These offer unlimited travel across Plymouth plus Torpoint, Saltash and Ivybridge. This currently makes these the cheapest day, week and month tickets for unlimited travel in and around Plymouth.

First News Release

We will be watching things very closely over the coming weeks!

26 October 2013

A Fitting Final Fling for First

I wasn't going to post today, but just seen this shot from Nick which just has to have a wider audience! I will use his caption as it sums up why its such a special shot...
It just had to happen, didn't it?!
©Nick Rice
Last day of the X80 it just had to have 34003 rostered for the duty, got a nice wave from the driver too. Also good to see it working something other than the Dartmouth Academy service. 20 years earlier if you search 'K803ORL' on Flickr you will find this very bus working this route when brand new as 1803 with Western National. From an enthusiast point of view a very fitting choice of vehicle. this was the Saturday & School holiday only 08:45 off Plymouth.

Although from a passenger point of view the new Stagecoach Gold is a welcome treat after years of First just running the X80 in autopilot mode, it is sad to see the end of the X80. As Nick points out, these buses were a real treat when they were introduced on the X80 brand new and have always been very comfortable buses for a long route like this. Sadly it was the last time anything new was brought for the X80. We have yet to see how things pan out on the new GOLD service but I am pretty sure we wont be seeing any of the new Scania E400s still out on the route in 20 years time!

25 October 2013


Pretty much as we expected, the first TAVISTOCK name has now started to appear on the former Park & Ride Enviros.

First Tavistock
© Nick Rice (cc)
First Enviro I have seen with 'Tavistock' names on the sides, expect from timetable changes these to move onto the 83/86s. Be interesting to see what First put onto the Park & Ride services.

24 October 2013

PCTPG Explain

Further to yesterdays post we can now add this PCTPG Press Release…

Plymouth 240913 094The Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group has today created what is believed to be another first in the field of bus preservation. The group recently acquired a pair of recently withdrawn Plymouth City Bus yellow "Student link" buses for onward preservation, today we can reveal that one of the pair has been converted to open top format for use on trips in the busy summer rally season as well as performing a vital tree lopping role for Plymouth City Council in the Autumn and Winter months.
The conversion, carried out at our Colebrook depot, lead by Group Chairman Ralph Delbridge has created a much needed additional open top facility for the group taking the pressure of its other existing preserved 1960's Leyland Atlantean open topper and also providing the City of Plymouth with a vital service vehicle to keep the bus lanes free of the danger of overhanging branches in the future. Group Chairman Ralph Delbridge added "Whilst we actively preserve the Public Transport of the past for future generations to enjoy, it is equally important that future public transport connections are developed and we are pleased to be able to play an important part benefitting both the travelling public and local Bus Operators. Our sincere thanks to Plymouth CityBus MD, Richard Stevens and Engineering Director Mark Horide in their open support of our Group in the acquisition of this and other former service vehicles. "
The bus was originally one of a batch of 19 Volvo Citybuses purchased second hand from Trent and other operators in 1999 to replace the remaining elderly Leyland Atlanteans and modernise the fleet. The remaining half dozen or so left of this type of bus which were all Student Link liveried examples with Alexander bodies were withdrawn in July 2013.
With the support of Plymouth CityBus we were able to secure two of the buses,185 F602GVO will be preserved as it was in original condition with its roof, whilst 182 G621OTV (pictures attached) has become our new open topper. We believe this to be another first achieved by the Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group to convert a preserved bus to open top
format whilst in preservation. The group has a collection of 24 vehicles and has grown from small beginnings in June 2006 to over 100 members in 6 years. For more information on the groups collection and activities or to join please visit our website at plymouthcitytransport.co.uk

23 October 2013

182 takes a short cut

Seen on Billacombe Road yesterday by Richard Smith…PCTPG G621OTV
©Richard Smith

182 is now owned by the PCTPG who have had it converted as a tree lopper to replace WJY758 on such duties. Its nice to see the attention to detail with the destination display! 

Public Transport Experience But the key test is to see how publicity and frequency combine to provide an attractive service, or otherwise.

Leon Daniels: Boris later announced - in his classic humorous style - that he was giving five New Bus for London vehicles to KMB as a gift from TfL!

Public Transport Experience: Enthusiasts and "ordinary" passengers alike have commented that much of First's fleet should be in a museum.

Public Transport Experience:The lavish facilities consist of  series of widely spaced trendily-shaped shelters and nothing else. No toilets, no enquiry office, no bus station plan, no refreshment facilities and no source of printed timetables.

Public Transport Experience: Presumably no money? Or no effort? Or no understanding? So much so that a gaggle of potential passengers at the Parkside terminus had absolutely no idea what bus route A was.

22 October 2013

A little bit more Gold

When First Devon & Cornwall announced they were quitting the X80 and leaving it all to Stagecoach Devon there were a few upset passengers complaining that their journeys were no longer possible, especially some of the extra runs serving King Edward IV College. Stagecoach have now made a few changes which should help at least some of the passengers who were not happy…

From 28th October 2013, we're introducing some extra journeys on Stagecoach Gold which we hope you’ll find useful.We’ve summarised the changes below but please do take a moment to check the full journey details in the new timetable.

From Torquay, Paignton and Totnes towards Plymouth and Dartmouth
(Monday to Saturday)

  • We’ve introduced an earlier connection to Plymouth which will leave Torquay at 0555 and Totnes at 0635, arriving Plymouth 0735
  • Our 0655 service from Torquay will now leave at 0645, operating 10 minutes earlier throughout and arriving in Plymouth at 0825
  • The 0740 journey from Totnes to Dartmouth will no longer run
  • The 1535 departure from Totnes to Plymouth will now serve King Edward VI College grounds on school days
  • There are two new evening journeys between Torquay and Totnes, leaving Torquay at 2130 and 2300.

From Plymouth, Dartmouth and Totnes towards Paignton and Torquay
(Monday to Saturday)

  • Our 0710 Totnes departure to Paignton and Torquay will now leave at 0700, arriving at Torquay at 0738
  • Passengers using the 0755 from Dartmouth will now need to change bus at Totnes, connecting onto the 0855 for Paignton and Torquay
  • The 0835 from Dartmouth to Totnes will no longer run
  • A new journey from Plymouth will leave Royal Parade at 0742 (school days) or 0747 (school holidays and Saturdays) and will serve King Edward VI College grounds on school days, continuing to Totnes (0850), Paignton (0916) and Torquay (0936)
  • We’re introducing two additional evening journeys between Totnes and Torquay which will leave Totnes at 2215 and 2340.

Sadly the link on the web page for the timetable does not work so you have to go through the awful Stagecoach web site and I cant find the new timetable anywhere but I am sure it will be available sometime soon!

21 October 2013

First Branding

The first double decker noted with the new TORPOINT branding has been captured on camera by my friend Richard Smith:

IMG_6438 Awaiting new branding are the Tavy Linx Volvo B6BLEs which have had their lettering removed. It is assumed that they will be suitably lettered up for the new 6 route. They have a big hill to get up on the 6 so good luck to them with that! IMG_6390

Both ©Richard Smith

19 October 2013

First Three

First are making major changes to their 3 service which is currently City Centre to Barne Barton.

This is what we have at the moment

First 3 Current service

Service 3 (City Centre - St Budeaux): The frequency of buses on this route is being reduced slightly. From the end of October buses will run every 10 minutes Monday - Saturday.

Ok – this makes sense as it is up against the 21 21A which is every 10 mins too so the route is over bussed as it is. Most people wont notice any real difference,

In addition to this the route is being adjusted with all Service 3 buses set to terminate at St Budeaux from this date.

The “adjustment” is the removal of the red section seen below!

First 3 Withdrawn Barne Barton loop

As First state: The changes to Service 3 mean that people wishing to travel to and from Barne Barton by bus will need to make alternative arrangements.

Although anyone with a First season ticket might be annoyed most passengers will be able to find an alternative as Plymouth Citybus 21 runs the same route every ten minutes. 

So what extra are First giving us to make up for this loss?

Every other Service 3 bus will, however, continue on from St Budeaux as a Service 3A bus, This new service will provide links between the city centre, Peverell, Honicknowle, West Park and St Budeaux while also giving people the opportunity to connect with Service 3 for onward journeys to Devonport and the City Centre. Buses will operate every 20 minutes during the daytime (Monday - Saturday)

The full route 3 3A is shown below…the 3A is in purple

First 3 and 3A October

Now this does look like a good route which should be popular as it opens up new links and with decent marketing might be a good move by First. It seems a shame then that its not being set up a as straight forward circular service with all buses doing the whole route.  If you catch a 3 at Devonport towards St Budeaux how do you know if it continues on towards Honicknowle or just turns at St Budeaux? Hopefully this will be shown on the bus somehow and not just all show St Budeaux as the destination.

The 3A is up against Plymouth Citybus 61 62 from Honicknowle into the City Centre. We see the 3A below (purple) with the 61 (red) and the 62 (orange) which bother operate every half hour. I am sure there will be a few passengers along the common sections who will be grateful for First for the extra service.


Additionally, most journeys on Service 2 will continue from Royal Parade as Service 3, thus providing links from Plymstock to Devonport and St Budeaux.

This is yet another example of the current fad for cross city services being introduced half heartedly. If you agree that cross city services are the way forward (and many argue that it isnt!) then at least try to make it clear to passengers that this is the case. Plymouth Citybus have finally taken the bull by the horns with the 21 21A and also the new 5 5A in that the services are being marketed as one through service rather than vague promises that most buses go through. It should be easy to work out as both the 2 and the 3 are every 10 minutes so all buses will just go through?

Looking at the 2 onto Royal Parade:

Timetable 2 part

We can see that the Oreston runs take an extra couple of mins so the buses do not arrive on Royal Parade on a nice 10 minute frequency. So what times do they then leave on the 3?

Timetable 2 part

Well that’s useless! if its every ten minutes then say so! Either way, it looks like every other bus arrives on a 2 two minutes after the 3 departs – so maybe its not so straight forward. This timetable from First also highlights the issue of the 3A being marketed properly. The 3A potentially opens up new links between Devonport and Honicknowle etc – but how would you know this looking at the 3 timetable shown above? There is no mention whatsoever that alternate buses continue as the 3A. It appears that the buses leaving RP at 10 30 and 50 mins are the ones which continue through after a 3 min break at St Budeaux.

Timetable 2 part

I have never been a fan of First’s online timetables as they are not the clearest or easiest to use. The PDF option is better but often the page layout is poor with timetables not formatted to the printed page. Their printed material is often better and their bus stop timetables are a lot better than used by Citybus.

Indeed the printed timetable leaflet for the new service does indeed have a full timetable showing the full circle. Sadly I cant show it here properly as it comes out sideways in the PDF! Its a real shame that First cant put these timetables online instead of the current ones. They look a lot better, are a lot clearer and in this case show all the connections a lot better.


Unlike the new 6 which I fail to see the point of, this new service has a lot of potential and opens up new travel opportunities. I really hope it works out and is given enough time to work. If they could just get a few more routes like this and some decent buses in Plymouth then the future would look a lot less uncertain than it has done for some time.

18 October 2013

Taking (Plym)stock

With several changes over the coming months Plymstock services are under the spotlight today. The current Plymstock route for Plymouth Citybus is the 5 5A which provides a basic 10 minute daily service from town alternating directions around the Plymstock loop. Evenings and Sundays are provided with a bus every 30 mins.Plymstock - Plymouth Citybus Sep 2013

First Devon & Cornwall have several routes at the moment covering a larger area of Plymstock as shown below:

Plymstock - First Sep 2013
The main route is the 2 (yellow above) which operates a basic day time service every 12 minutes (10 mins at peak times). Evenings the service dips down to hourly. Sundays sees a half hourly service in the day time with an hourly Sunday evening service.

Next we have the 6 Dark blue above which shares a small section with the 2 but also serves Oreston and then into Elburton and Staddiscombe on a 20 minute frequency with the last bus back into town just after 9pm. A half hourly Sunday day time service is also provided. As can be seen there is a substantial overlap with the Plymouth Citybus 5 5A!

We then have the 7 (brown above – although most of it is hidden!) This comes up through Plymstock to Broadway, Dunstone View then down to Elburton and return in a one way loop. A basic half hour day time service with a Sunday bus every hour. No evenings.

Also shown above is the 48 in light blue with a few journeys pretty much covered by the 7 then splitting off  up through Wembury Road to Wembury. We also have the 93 with a bus every hour (black above) through Pomphlett Road and Stanborough Road on its way to Kingsbridge.

So what happens next?

27th October sees some drastic changes by First:

Service 2 (City Centre - Mount Batten): The frequency of buses on this route is being improved from the end of October. From this date buses will run every 10 minutes Monday - Saturday (compared to every 12 minutes at present) meaning customers will have more opportunities to travel. In addition to this the route that Service 2 buses take is being amended slightly. From the end of October buses between Plymstock Broadway and Pomphlett Roundabout will follow alternate routes every other journey, with one travelling via Pomphlett Gardens and the next travelling via Oreston. These changes mean that despite the loss of the old Service 6 (see details below), people travelling to and from Oreston will still have access to a bus every 20 minutes during the day Monday - Saturday. Similarly they will also regain an evening service from the end of October. Additionally, most journeys on Service 2 will continue from Royal Parade as Service 3, thus providing links from Plymstock to Devonport and St Budeaux

The 2 is shown below in yellow with the additional section through Oreston shown.

Plymstock - First Oct 2013

OLD Service 6 (City Centre - Staddiscombe): The existing Service 6 bus route is being withdrawn but a new Service 6 is being created at the same time (see details below). People who used the old service 6 will find that part of the previous route - that which runs between the city centre and Plymstock Broadway - will be covered by the revised Service 2 (see details above). People wishing to travel further into Staddiscombe will find that alternative services do exist.
Service 7 (City Centre - Elburton): We regret that this route - which has under performed for a number of years - is being withdrawn from the end of October. People wishing to travel to and from Elburton, Plymstock and the City Centre will however still be able to use our improved Service 93 (Plymouth - Dartmouth) to make local journeys.

Service 93 (Plymouth - Kingsbridge - Dartmouth): The timetable of this service is being amended to provide some additional short journeys running between Elburton (Elburton School) and the City Centre, to provide a bus every half hour This change is being made to compensate for the loss of Service 7 journeys. The longer journeys between Plymouth and Dartmouth are unaffected and remain as they are. From the end of October Service 93 buses will depart from Royal Parade (Stop A8), sharing the stop with Service 2 - which means that buses travelling the same direction will leave from the same place.

The 93 remains in black above with a bus every half hour.

It has to be said that this is quite a reduction in service for some areas of Plymstock although Citybus do have much of this covered. Speaking of which…

3rd November we see a new route:

Service 14 which is to operate hourly Monday to Saturday between Plympton, Plymstock, City Centre, Devonport, Ham, Derriford Hospital and Tamar Science Park. This new service is brought to you thanks to funding from Plymouth City Council.

Plymstock - Plymouth Citybus Nov 2013

The new hourly 14 shown above in orange adds few extra sections of route to the current coverage provided by the 5 5A (red).

But the changes are not over yet as we recently had a big announcement by Citybus regarding the 5 5A:

The new route, which will be named the 5 and 5A will run up to every 10 minutes between Plymstock Fire Station and Saltash Oaklands Drive, via the City Centre.

Saltash will not only benefit from increased Monday to Saturday daytime frequency but also an up to every 30 minutes service Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays. At Oaklands Drive the 5 will operate clockwise around Latchbrook, with the 5A running anti clockwise around the same route, so every bus stop will be served.

In Plymstock both services will run a new route direct via Pomphlett Road to the fire station where the 5 will now operate via Dolphin Court and Stanborough continuing on its current route to Elburton and Staddiscombe. The the 5A will operate via Goosewell Road and continue to Holmwood and Staddiscombe on its current route.

So the map below shows the Citybus network from the 1st December when the 5 5A is rerouted as shown in red with the 14 shown in orange still..

We now see that the 14 route through Plymstock now duplicates much of the new 5 5A with several areas no longer served by Citybus including Billacombe Road which is now devoid of any service. Oreston sees a general reduction in  service from First and looses Citybus.

Plymstock - Plymouth Citybus Dec 2013

I can see that the new 5 5A makes sense to Citybus as there are a lot more passengers to be had going through Pomphlett Road but a fair few passengers will be upset. Perhaps the 14 could be re-routed to provide at least some cover?

Public Transport Experience: Its design is not very good. No, its design is utterly appalling, unnecessarily complicated and unpleasantly confusing to an innocent bus user.

Public Transport Experience: it is all indicative of information provided by people who don't know what they are talking, programing or postering about; people who don't use the bus station and therefore don't realise what daftness they have created.

Andys Bus Blog: One of our regular contributors Philip Slynn visited the West Of England Transport Collection (WETC) annual open day in Winkleigh, Devon on Sunday 6th October 2013

Public Transport Experience: one (mature) lady summarised the views of the "not 'appy 'ere" brigade. "We didn't want it; but now we've got it I suppose we'd better use it." Certainly the Luton Busway has been greeted with less enthusiasm in the local media than the earlier Cambridge effort.

Andys Bus Blog: in this two part report we will be taking a look at some of the buses that are included in this fascinating collection...

16 October 2013

Cross City

We mentioned a few days ago the recent VOSA notice from Plymouth Citybus regarding the 5 5A:

PH0000135/94 - PLYMOUTH CITYBUS LTD, MILEHOUSE, MILEHOUSE ROAD, PLYMOUTH, PL3 4AA Variation Accepted: Operating between Saltash, Oaklands Green and Eldburton, Blackstone Close given service number 5/5A effective from 01-Dec-2013. To amend Route and Timetable.

PH0000135/77 - PLYMOUTH CITYBUS LTD, MILEHOUSE, MILEHOUSE ROAD, PLYMOUTH, PL3 4AA Cancellation Accepted: Operating between PLYMOUTH ROYAL PARADE and PLYMOUTH ROYAL PARADE given service number 43A effective from 01-Dec-2013.

We now have the official announcement:

December 1st will see the launch of Plymouth Citybus’ second cross city link operating between Saltash and Plymstock. The new route, which will be named the 5 and 5A will run up to every 10 minutes between Plymstock Fire Station and Saltash Oaklands Drive, via the City Centre.

Saltash will not only benefit from increased Monday to Saturday daytime frequency but also an up to every 30 minutes service Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays. At Oaklands Drive the 5 will operate clockwise around Latchbrook, with the 5A running anti clockwise around the same route, so every bus stop will be served.

In Plymstock both services will run a new route direct via Pomphlett Road to the fire station where the 5 will now operate via Dolphin Court and Stanbourgh continuing on its current route to Elburton and Staddiscombe. The the 5A will operate via Goosewell Road and continue to Holmwood and Staddiscombe on its current route.

Managing Director Richard Stevens said “We are delighted to introduce a new cross city link. This follows on from the success of our 21/21A cross city service, launched earlier in the year. The new service will give an increased frequency in Saltash, whilst at the same time offer direct access to facilities such as the life centre and the train station from Plymstock”.

Operating from 4th November Plymouth Citybus has also announced that it has managed to make an amendment to its new 103 school service, which will now allow the bus to serve DHS boys school from Plympton. The revised service will now serve Plymouth High, DHS Boys, DHS Girls, St Boniface and Notre Dame School. Full timetables and route maps are available here

[Archived copy pdf]

15 October 2013

Incoming Olympians–yes really!

Slightly surprising “new” additions to the First Plymouth fleet are at least two more Volvo Olympians!

©Richard Smith
It is not clear if these are hanging around or just helping out at the moment. The one I saw at the weekend still had legals for First Somerset & Avon (they have been replaced by former London Tridents at Taunton). As much as I like Olympians its odd to see more step entrance buses in Plymouth at this late stage. I believe there are a few more ex London Tridents due to Taunton so its possible more displaced Olympians are around? Part of me would like to think that we were due some of the ex London Tridents from the same batch as at Taunton– but they have ugly Alexander ALX400 style bodies so hopefully not!

We will have to wait and see what other changes happen to the First Plymouth fleet but general consensus seems to be that the current Park & Ride E400s will be assigned to Tavistock services (with First TAVISTOCK names) with presumably the better buses displaced from the X80 taking their place on Park & Ride duties. The current Tavistock buses – the purple B6BLEs have had lettering removed and are now running ‘naked’ but will gain some sort of lettering for the new 6. We know Torpoint fleet will gain First TORPOINT fleet names and strongly suspect First PLYMOUTH will eventually appear for the remainder with the current First DEVON names being dropped.

14 October 2013

The first First Torpoint

Many commentators had pointed out that the Torpoint Tridents should carry more appropriate fleet names seeing as they spend half their time in Cornwall. Well it seems they are getting their wishes, although starting off with something smaller…

Richard caught 40002 on camera on Friday...
©Richard Smith
I have to say it is very smart, this livery does suit these buses.
A reminder of how they used to look (also by Richard Smith...)

I have heard suggestions that we will also be seeing local fleet names for TAVISTOCK shortly. Surely will should also be seeing PLYMOUTH at some point especially as they have been pulling back from Devon services such as the X80.

Then came revolution! The Doncaster superstripe was born in purple with white edging. The name "Doncaster Transport", also in white, adorned the stripe. PTExp 11 Oct 

All too soon, the un-birthday was over and it was time to go. Sadly, no goody bag of sweets, toys and party hats (why not?) but a Doncaster edition of the commemorative brochure. PTExp 12 Oct 

Technology needs to be relevant and useful
It needs to be simple to manage
It needs people with good understanding of the information content
Motto: keep it simple, stoopid!
PTExp 13 Oct

11 October 2013

The little ones can be a bit bigger

First Devon & Cornwall introduce yet another fares imitative!

In a continued drive to help more of its customers to better fare deals, from 13 October First is extending its age range for child fares. From this date, anyone aged between 5 and 19 can travel for a child fare, whereas previously children could only travel at child fare until the day before their 16th birthday.

This initiative is available to anyone travelling within the Plymouth and Plus zones, which now includes Horrabridge and Tavistock.
Commenting on the change, Alex Carter, Managing Director of First South West, said: "Many young people are still in education, so dont have much spare cash. To help them, were extending our child fare age range so that they can travel more cheaply until just before their 19th birthday.'
News Release 10 October

[Archived pdf]


Public Transport Experience: The press doesn't help when bus services are disrupted; possibly because journalists have scant knowledge of geography and a non-existent grasp of the public transport network.

Andys Bus Blog: Whilst in King's Lynn yesterday the number of double decker buses photographed got us thinking about the ever increasing number of this type in use in the area,

09 October 2013

The next stage?

Notices 8 October

PH0000135/94 - PLYMOUTH CITYBUS LTD, MILEHOUSE, MILEHOUSE ROAD, PLYMOUTH, PL3 4AA Variation Accepted: Operating between Saltash, Oaklands Green and Eldburton, Blackstone Close given service number 5/5A effective from 01-Dec-2013. To amend Route and Timetable.

PH0000135/77 - PLYMOUTH CITYBUS LTD, MILEHOUSE, MILEHOUSE ROAD, PLYMOUTH, PL3 4AA Cancellation Accepted: Operating between PLYMOUTH ROYAL PARADE and PLYMOUTH ROYAL PARADE given service number 43A effective from 01-Dec-2013.

We were wondering what the next batch of double deckers currently arriving for Plymouth Citybus were for. Its clear that they have more planned and yesterday we saw a hint of the next stage in the battle for Plymouth passengers. Of course we cant tell much from VOSA, this could be as simple as joining the current 43A Saltash – City with the current 5 5A City – Elburton to create another cross city service with service levels remaining pretty much the same. I dont know, but I suspect there will be more activity on the VOSA site over the coming days…

Plymouth Citybus 069 WA03BHY

Meanwhile we have this from Plymouth Citybus

Great News on Student Fares with Plymouth Citybus

From Monday the 7th October there are to be the following changes to Student fares. From this date the current age restriction for student tickets will be lifted, so providing you can show you are a full time student at a recognised education establishment then Student fares are available to you.

What does this mean for Students?

M Ticketing

You can download the App from our web site then simply; buy, show and go.

The key

If you have a student key then nothing changes. If you need a key then as a student you will need to go to our Travel Centre please bring with you your student enrolment card. Once you have your key, then you can buy from our Travel Centre or keep your chosen product topped up online. Should you wish to change products i.e. go from a 1 week product to a 4 week product, then you will need to go back to the Travel Centre and have the new product added to your card.

Buying fares on the bus **

Students can buy reduced bus fares from the driver, however if you look older than 18 then you will be asked to prove that you are either a student, or under 19. For proof of age we accept the Citizen card (click here), the photo card of a driving licence or a Passport. If you are a student then the following forms of ID is acceptable: City College Plymouth, Plymouth University, Peninsula Medical School, College of Mark and St John’s, NUS Card. If you go to an education centre that is not on our list and you would like them to be, please ask them to send us a sample ID card. (ID card will need to have the following information: Photo of the holder, Name of the education establishment, expiry date of the card.

** Fast boarding helps keeps our buses running to time.

When using any student product please carry your education centre ID Card. If you not a student and you think you could be challenged on your age, then please have with you your proof of age card.

[Archived copy pdf]

Meanwhile First Devon & Cornwall are running the usual Goose Fair Park & Ride:

Working with Tavistock Town Council we are pleased to be running Park & Ride schemes for Tavistock Goose Fair on 9 October.
There will be the usual 3 sites: Yelverton Aerodrome - £2.50 per adult/ 50p per child (under 16 years old)
Lumburn Rise on Callington Road - £5 per car Harford Bridge Holiday Park, Peter Tavy Road - £5 per car
The Tavistock Lions and the Plymouth-Tamar Lions will be manning and operating this Park and Ride Scheme. The Park and Ride locations will be identified on the main routes into Tavistock by temporary AA type yellow road signs. Attempts will be made to park vehicles with disabled badges in designated areas as close to bus boarding points as possible. There will be limited disabled facilities on buses available from the Yelverton site. To avoid crowding at bus stops in Tavistock, the Yelverton buses will drop off and pick up outside the DCC Highways yard on Pixon Lane. Frequent shuttle services to strategic points in the Town Centre, from the above sites will run between 9am and 10.30 pm depending upon demand.
As this is a privately operated facility and therefore Blue disabled badges and concessionary travel bus passes are not valid for these services (the fares stated above apply). Tavistock Town Council are advising all those wishing to travel into Tavistock for the Goose Fair events not to drive and to use the Park & Ride services. This is due to the sheer number of people they expect to attend. Please click on the link below to view the Tavistock Town Council Goose Fair page and also a map of Park and Ride drop off points around Tavistock

[Archived copy pdf]

Bus World PhotographyFor many years Berlin tried to forget the dark days of what is still in living memory fairly recent past

Andys Bus Blog: Today we conclude our Looking back... at Cambridge in 1990

Public Transport Experience: being lost, looking for Musbury and driving along a steeply-banked Devon lane following a panicking pig that could not escape. The more the pig squealed, the more mother sank into one of her nervous "turns

08 October 2013

First Plymouth Map

When it come to promoting their services both main companies in Plymouth have their strengths and weaknesses. One thing that I feel First Devon & Cornwall generally do well is their maps. They have just released their latest Plymouth network for the end of October:

First Plymouth new map October 2013

Its best viewed in full size obviously!

I much prefer this style of map without too many different colours, although, to be fair to Plymouth Citybus, it is probably slightly easier for First having less routes in Plymouth. I will be having a look at other publicity items put out by the companies for the new networks over the coming weeks, but this is a positive start!

Public Transport Experience: During the £500,000 scheme the water company will be upgrading 1,025 metres of old three-inch concrete water mains to address the issue of frequent bursts in the area.

Random Streets: Houghton-le-Spring a small and historic town in North East England, believed to have been founded in the 12th Century.

07 October 2013

The battle has begun

The Blue Flash service 12 has now started so the battle for Tavistock has begun...
Plymouth Citybus 502 WF63LZB
I managed a rare trip out into town for the afternoon so after catching a First Devon & Cornwall  service 15 which was sadly a very rough slow B6BLE I couldn't wait to get off at Crownhill and wait for the Blue Flash to arrive. It was bang on time too so I was able to get my first full ride on one of these buses. I have to say I was very impressed – these are very comfortable buses. Better than the current Park & Ride fleet (although not quite as good as the previous WA56 batch which were superb!).

Loadings were fair, with approx. 20 on the bus to Plymouth I was on. That might not sound much, but the other First buses I saw on their Tavistock services were about the same. I have to say loadings were pretty much 50/50 on all the runs I saw in what was a very unscientific count! First continued to use a mixture of Tridents and the sad B6BLEs although at least one of the purple buses has now lost its Tavylinx branding. No doubt they will soon be lettered up enticing passengers to Efford / Laira…

Plymouth Citybus 502 WF63LZB

I did get to try the wifi and it did work very well indeed with no fussy passwords or setting up screens. It just did what it said it would – and worked. If anything it was faster than the free wifi I get at work!

Passengers certainly seemed impressed with many casual day trippers saying they would use the service again, many making the comparison with the usual buses First use.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Plymouth Citybus though with a couple of breakdowns, as Brian George explained…

Have to agree two breakdowns in two days with brand new vehicles is not the best start. On Saturday one bus suffered an alternator problem which resulted in flat batteries. On Sunday I understand that the bus would turn over but a fuel issue prevented the bus from firing up. A replacement Eclipse was used on the service. No one likes to see breakdowns but these things happen unfortunately but it's hardly the end of the world”

Hopefully for Citybus these are just teething problems, as often seems to happen with new buses these days and the buses will settle down in service. Citybus and First both know that the real battle will begin on Monday when Citybus have the job of enticing regular commuters to their service. Most of the people I know who use the services come into Derriford Hospital which at the moment means they will stick with First. Once they loose their direct bus it will  be interesting to see what they do…

Public Transport Experience What is absolutely clear is that there is a style, a "panache" about French public transport that is second to none. Of course the whole caboodle is heavily subsidised. The French are more heavily taxed than we Brits but they do "bus" in style

Public Transport Experience In fact, everything about this two-line system spells quality and good service. Even the grass is trimmed beautifully.

Public Transport Experience: Fearnley's team is re-grouping and attempting to incise financial wounds into City Bus on some of its more lucrative urban routes.

04 October 2013

Another Repaint

Spendid afternoon for a 'T'

©Nick Rice: While Stagecoach were doing the honours of showing off their new bus and Gold service, First continue to plug on with the repaint of Tridents - the latest done is 32762 WJ55 CRZ which frequently works off Torpoint depot, here heading for Insworke on the 81.

I have to say Nick has caught this one in great light – it really does look stunning!

With thick gold (coloured) icing and edible "gold" labels these shortcake lovelies were, at about a million calories each, just superb. Public Transport Experience

“The best case scenario is that local bus companies, of which there are several and who the council has a very good relationship with, could pick up the routes that are being lost and bus users could actually end up with a better service than Arriva has been providing” Omnibuses

The first batch of First's new Alexander Dennis Enviro400s for the X1 service between Peterborough and Lowestoft entered service on Monday Andys Bus Blog

Excellent buildings and ambiance, but not a printed bus timetable in sight! bb could find none on the appropriate web site. The dreaded disease of on-line stop-specific departure lists appeared to have conquered all. Public Transport Experience

BUS passengers are facing a winter of discontent as services are axed in Weymouth and Portland. Changes are being made to local routes as the First bus company introduces a winter timetable. Dorset Echo

03 October 2013


First Devon & Cornwall continue to be generous with their fares…

Good news for concession pass holders in Plymouth and the surrounding areas!
From Monday 7 October we're launching a special £1 flat fare for holders of a concession pass so you can travel before 09:30 or after 23:00 on week days.
If a concession pass holder wants to travel before 09:30 or after 23:00 on a week day they would normally have to pay the full adult fare.
But from Monday 7 October concession pass holders can simply show their driver their pass and pay just £1 for any single trip within the Plymouth or Plus zones.
This includes Plymouth, Plymstock, St Budeaux, Torpoint, Saltash, Tavistock, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Rame, Wembury, Lee Mill and Ivybridge.

Simply ask your driver for the £1 concession fare. Free travel for concession pass holders is still available all day on weekends and on public holidays.

I am sure many will find this useful!

Meanwhile Plymouth Citybus get ready for their big launch this weekend…

BUS passengers will be able to travel between Plymouth and Tavistock in a "flash" with the launch of a new service. Plymouth Citybus has unveiled its new Blue Flash service, which will operate seven days a week starting on Saturday.

The new "premium" double decker buses feature leather seating, increased leg room, on-board free Wi-Fi and more designated space for buggies and wheelchairs. The vehicles are decked out in City Bus' new 'Blue Flash' branding, designed by local creative agency Bluestone 360.

With the expansion to Tavistock, Citybus has introduced a new zone to cover the area. Dayrider tickets are priced at £4.20, seven-day tickets are £18 and monthly tickets £59. Child and student tickets are £3.50, £15 and £50 respectively, available to those 18 and under or 22 and under in full-time education. If passengers just want to travel on the Blue Flash route they will also be able to purchase a seven-day ticket for £15.

The Herald

Meanwhile First have now released their new timetables on their web site. I will be having a closer look at the main areas of competition over the next week or so.