04 February 2014

Plymothian Transit Predicts

I know its a lot later than usual but seeing as nothing much has happened in January I think its still worth trying to predict what we will see in and around Plymouth this coming year:

Plymouth Citybus

  • Normal repaints will restart later this year and swoops will end up the predominant livery by the end of the year.
  • At least two more “Flash” routes will have started.
  • The main route network will continue to grow with more routes outside the City. Several new routes will be gained under tender in both Devon & Cornwall.
  • Like many others I see Citybus in Mount Batten sometime in the year.
  • Tavistock routes expanded, Torpoint possibly contracted.
  • Buses: More new double deckers, probably E400s later in the year.
  • More double deckers from Go Ahead London, possibly Wright bodied WVL class buses later in the year.
  • As well as the Scanias already coming I think we could see a few other single deckers joining the fleet from within the group.
  • The N reg batch of Dennis Darts will be withdrawn, along with a start on the R reg batch.
  • Citycoach: One or two secondhand from within the group.

Still here, but not seeing the year out?

Plymouth Citybus 005 N105UTT

First Devon & Cornwall

  • First will still be around in Plymouth at the end of the year. Probably treading water with a few route changes along the way and rejigs to combat more expansion from Citybus.
  • First Cornwall will be the next to get a Somerset style makeover with a similar non-corporate livery.
  • No new buses for Plymouth. Possibly more Tridents transferred in to see off the remaining Olympians.
  • First Devon will see a few more buses in the standard new First Group livery. Possibly PLYMOUTH branding in to replace DEVON?

Target Travel and Jacketts 

  • Target will continue to contract loosing one or two routes under tender. Probably focus more on their coach work.
  • Jacketts will gain more routes in Plymouth and South Devon. They will get their destinations working!

Western Greyhound

  • I hope that WG will still be around as an independent operator by the end of 2014. Faced with First who clearly want to make a go of it in Cornwall, if not Devon and a county council who no longer want to pay for it there will be more cutbacks. If anyone does make an offer then I think its more likely to be Stagecoach than Go Ahead.
  • Not much of a prediction as its already started, fleet replacement of the last Varios will step up. Quite a fleet of Darts and Tridents over the coming year.
  • Plymouth routes remaining pretty much the same.


  • I think there will be slightly more of a presence in Plymouth by Stagecoach this coming year. Not a major move into Plymouth itself though. Possibly the Dartmouth route 93 being taken over from First leaving them to concentrate in Plymouth


  • Railway new routes – more talk, no action. Airport – nothing.
  • First will retain the Great Western Franchise
  • Real time display – no change.
  • Bretonside – more talk and no action. Any action will be to develop the site rather than any attempt to replace the bus station.
  • Sherford Corridor – There will be plenty of talk about exciting new plans along this corridor. Councillors will speak of trams, monorails, trolley buses, guided bus ways and all sorts of exotic things. We will end up with a few extra bus lanes and maybe one or two stretches of bus-only roads.
  • Park & Ride: The council will continue to complain and nothing much will happen. Maybe new fleet names / low level branding on existing buses to help market the services.
No real change on P&R? First 40586 YJ51RJX

Plymothian Transit

Not so much a prediction, more of a hope than anything else. I will strive to post 4 – 5 times a week over the year but there are many things which can get in the way. A few of you will know that my son is having difficulties at the moment (I wont go into them here!) which has lead to a reduction in trips out. Hopefully things will settle later this year once he makes it into secondary school. He is top priority over anything I do for Plymothian Transit!

That said, it will continue and there will be other side projects along the way. Plymothian Bus Services is currently the main project which will  continue to be built up through the year.

The other thing I hope to expand upon is the interaction that the blog is getting these days. There are a lot more comments being left by a lot more people which is brilliant. The recent survey was really useful for me, and there will be a few others over the coming year, possibly shorter and more to the point than the last one.

As always feel free to leave your comments – am I really off the wall on some of these?


  1. I really can't see why Stagecoach would be too interested in the 93, they'd need somewhere to run it from for starters. I assume also, that it's not a great money-spinner. They've shown little interest in Plymouth so far (except running in from places where they already have depots), and I can't really see why that would change.

    As for further deckers for Citybus, there's still plenty of Presidents and ALX400s that GAL is likely to pull out of London before Geminis (unless you know something?!). As an alternative (and now that they've got their first Scanias), Citybus might want to speak to Brighton & Hove as there's likely to be a significant number of 7-11 year old, single-door deckers that are going to have to be prematurely removed before the end of the year, now that the loony council has managed to impose a bus-only LEZ in the city centre. A thought for Brian, maybe?

    1. No they aren't. They can have exhaust traps fitted to them

    2. They can indeed and some are to be so fitted. Others aren't. That's what the Company has said publically.

  2. you are probably right on the 93.

    As for Geminis, no I don't know anything more, but GAL have started sending some of them out to other GA fleets just recently. The first 5 I think have already arrived at Konnectbus so there are clearly some available for transfers. Must admit I hadnt really thought about Brighton & Hove - could be interesting!

  3. Stagecoach could be interested in a base for their Megabus services. Plymouth could answer that issue.

    1. Newquay would be far better for a Megabus depot than Plymouth

    2. Why? You've said this before but Plymouth is miles away from the bulk of the Megabus network and most coaches are (quite sensibly) based at Cwmbran, Rugby or in Scotland. They have no need for a huge depot like The Ride if that's what you're suggesting (and it's liable to be compulsorily purchased for redevelopment anyway).

  4. Graham - there’s been a lot of speculation about recently; it’s nice to see some that is at least founded in reality ;)

    It seems to be clear from FDC's published accounts is that the operation was (is?) loss making. However there is always lag between published accounts and the current situation, nevertheless First needs to see a substantial swing to move the operation anywhere near the black. FDC have been making changes and they will be very aware from their accounting systems whether these changes are making a difference. The future probably hangs in the balance sheets and only First will know how their initiatives are fairing (fareing?!).

    The main issue is that having a loss making operations is not sustainable. New First seems to recognise this. What seems clear from First's approach nationwide and from their investor briefings is that operations that continue to make loses won't be supported indefinitely. This is a different approach to the previous regime. The previous status quo for FDC cannot continue and the days of focussing on being the biggest have gone.

    First have only two real options: 1) to dispose of the loss making operation or 2) to make changes to stem the losses. At the moment First seem to be going for the second option with FDC, but what happens should this not succeed?

    It seems FDC management are taking three different approaches to the three areas it manages (Cornwall, Devon and the Taunton/Bridgewater Somerset ops).

    In Plymouth FDC are largely focussing on lower cost fares in the hope of increasing footfall and gaining margins. This relies on rapidly increasing passenger numbers. This is perhaps best suited to city operations and might explain the withdrawal of the X80/X81. The national First corporate image is being used.

    In Somerset the approach has been to rejuvenate the brand. Fare reduction isn’t the main driver, but improving reputation is. We’re looking at a sweeping sea-change, something very obvious and attention grabbing. Here the national First brand has been abandoned in favour of something local and distinctive. Fares have been adjusted and in cases increased. The aim seems to be to use the fare revisions to stem the loss and then use a strong passenger focussed brand to build passenger growth more slowly and organically.

    In Cornwall First seem to be taking a more cautious approach, the fare structure has been tweaked in order to help reduce immediate losses, but there is little obvious outward sign of change. The management will know they can’t spread themselves too thinly, but are perhaps also waiting to see which approach works best between Plymouth and Buses of Somerset.

    Plymouth and Buses of Somerset are of course the two areas where First is seeing active competition, with Citybus and Webberbus duplicating mileage. In Cornwall First’s primary competition is Western Greyhound, but the two tend to compete in terms of tendering rounds, rather than on the road competition. This perhaps gives First a little more time to play with. I suspect the next round of tender results will be key to the future of First’s Cornwall ops and Western Greyhound.

    I do wonder if this is a make or break year for FDC in general. The management is being brave, it is being innovative (in First terms) with fares and marketing approach, but if this doesn’t work then I think they will have to look seriously about the operations long tern future. They withdraw from North Devon and Torbay without much of a fight, now they are fighting, but can they win…?

  5. For Citybus, despite the scaremongering and talk of red faces by some posters I see this as being a pretty good year for them. They’ve been adjusting their fares and routes for a while now and hopefully we’ll see a more stable core network. Having a strong foundation perhaps puts them in better stead to be a little more expansionistic and a little more opportunistic. As an outside observer they certainly seem a more streamlined, effective and decisive organisation than the more conservative council owned operation. Generally PCB under Go Ahead management seems to be the progressive company, with First in Plymouth being the more reactionary. They’ve taken some gambles in their competition with First, but I see the risks for them as reasonably low and the gains potentially high.

  6. What, a depot big enough to maintain and operate 200 buses comfortably. How many megabus vehicles were you thinking of!!!???

  7. I agree with virtually all of your predictions here Graham. As for the N reg Darts, I can see them being around at least until the start of the summer, though I can't see them still being here at the end of the year. I think the R reg Darts have at least another year left.

    As for expansion, I reckon several new routes will start, including Mount Batten and some outside of the City. Tavistock will continue, as will Torpoint with a number of minor tweaks. First will attack another Citybus route if they go for Mount Batten.

    Jacketts will improve their presentation this year. While yes at present some of their buses do look rather poorly presented, as mentioned a few weeks ago it's really no worse than First running those Marshall Darts during the Olympic period in 2012 with tatty paper destinations. Plus bear in mind Jackett's have nowhere near the amount of resources a huge empire such as First do.

    Park and Ride I agree with you, I can't envisage any big changes sadly. More moaning from the Council and passengers though First will continue to put whatever they can find on it.


Have something interesting to say? Please share it here!

(Moderation is currently switched on so please allow a short while before your comment appears on the site. This is only to cut down on spam - not to cut out people who disagree with me!)