The start of 2015 has seen some quite major changes to certain routes in South Hampshire, largely due to cuts imposed by Hampshire County Council. The loss of a bus service is never good news, but our resident website manager Tom and website editor Steven took this as a perfect excuse for a long overdue bus tour. This is what happened.
Our first bus was a First bus. 'The Three' from Thornhill to General Hospital came after a short wait and we did something we had never done before – purchased a Solent Go Dayrider each. It's interesting to note at this point that the distinctive red livery for The Three is over a year old now. It certainly doesn't feel that long.
Following a fairly standard journey across the city, around 50 minutes later we were at the General Hospital, with 25 minutes to kill before our next journey. Our next service was one that were people to list which buses served the hospital, they would quite possibly forget to mention it, due to its irregularity. Stagecoach's only service that crossed the Southampton boundary, the 46 was our next ride, all the way to Winchester. This was sadly to be curtailed so it terminated at North Baddesley shortly into the new year, signalling the departure of Stagecoach buses from Southampton completely.
|18512 - XSU 612 at Southampton General Hospital|
Just about. The 69 to Fareham was waiting in the stand, loading passengers as we hastily made our way across the bus station. This route hasn't seen any major changes and still operates hourly between Winchester and Fareham. Our destination however was not Fareham, but rather the quaint village of Bishops Waltham – around halfway between the two termini. We took our seats on the single decker bus and headed off.
|27616 - GX10 HCD in Bishops Waltham|
Anyway, back to the buses. When it arrived we boarded the cream-coloured single decker Brijan Tours bus, and it was completely empty, except for the driver. Rattling its way through areas and roads that were unfamiliar to both of us, we enjoyed the ride, even if it did look as though the bus couldn't possibly make it down some of the more rural lanes along the route.
As lunch had moved in time and location, we popped in to a well-known chain of fried chicken purveyors to eat, before having a slow amble back across the manic roads of Hedge End. A reasonable wait for the 26 followed, and when it came it was interesting to see that it was well used across the route. This was another route that sadly lost its life as a result of the cuts to public services, and was an absolute must on our list. Heavy traffic around Titchfield looked to delay us considerably but thankfully we made it through with no real problems. At this stage of the tour it wouldn't have been too much of an issue as once we reached Fareham we would be homeward bound anyway, and the services we needed to use from then on were regular enough.
Fareham Bus Station was packed with people – not an uncommon sight at all, and we scrambled our way through the masses to the stand for the X4 and X5 to Southampton. After a 10 minute or so wait an X5 came, in the form of one of the newish single decker Scanias that have been placed onto these services to replace the ageing Dennis Darts, and to increase capacity by a few seats. The journey back to Woolston Link Road was pretty standard, and nothing particularly notable really happened. The only thing was the short ride on The Three back to Thornhill, where every other service arrived before the one we wanted, and once it did arrive, it was standing room only, and this was even limited. We didn't really care though as it was only a short journey, and not long after boarding we were back home.
|66202 - S802 RWJ at Fareham Bus Station|