- First Hampshire & Dorset
First Hampshire & Dorset is a subsidiary bus company within
FirstGroup, which operates buses and trains throughout Great Britain.
First Hampshire & Dorset has its head office in Portswood,
Southamptonand operates bus services in the Weymouthand Bridportareas in Dorset; and services in Southampton (Portswood Depot), Portsmouth( HilseaDepot), Farehamand Gosport (Hoeford Depot).
First Hampshire & Dorset was created out of various different smaller companies, who were merged once First had acquired them.
FirstBus acquired bus services in Portsmouth in 1996 from "Transit Holdings" trading as Red Admiral & Blue Admiral, which in turn had taken over the Portsmouth CityBus operations under the title of Southdown Portsmouth.
The former Southdown operations continue to be operated by Southdown Motor Services Limited t/a Stagecoach Coastline, or Stagecoach in Portsmouth (Portsmouth area services) or Stagecoach in the South Downs (Chichester/Worthing services).
FirstBus (later renamed FirstGroup) had previously taken over the bus services in Gosport and Fareham formerly operated by "People's Provincial" and Hants & Dorset and amalgamated the services in the East Hampshire area as "First Provincial".
Further acquisitions of the bus operations of "Southampton CityBus" and
Southern Nationalwere made, with the company being renamed "First Hampshire & Dorset" in 2003.
2006the Traffic Commissioner fined First Hampshire & Dorset £35,000 for failing to run one in five buses in Portsmouth on time. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/6177337.stm BBC News - "Bus firms fined for late services" - Fines for First H&D] ] The operator received an earlier formal warning over timekeeping in June 2005. "The Traffic Commissioners' nationally accepted criteria for the operation of a bus journey is running more than one minute early or more than five minutes late (otherwise the journey is deemed not to have run)." In its defence, First Hampshire & Dorset had submitted that Portsmouth City Council's five year plan to resurface every street to improve street lighting had severely affected the operator's ability to maintain services, something rejected by the Traffic Commissioner. First Hampshire & Dorset now publishes reliability and punctuality data on its website.
First Group purchased Southampton City Bus in 1997 and after a brief period of using the City Bus name the operation was renamed First Southampton. In 1999 First Southampton was merged with First Provincial to form First Hampshire. This later became First Hampshire & Dorset. The company is facing growing competition in Southampton from Go-Ahead owned
Solent Blue Lineand Uni-link.
First services in Southampton utilise a mix of single and double deck buses.
The backbone of the double decker fleet is a large number of
Volvo Olympians with Northern Counties Palatine1 bodywork. All of these are second hand, the double door vehicles coming from Go-Ahead's Londonoperations and Stagecoach. The company also has sixteen Volvo B7TL's with Alexander ALX400bodywork. Most of these carried branding for service 17/17A but this has been removed and the vehicles can be found operating across the network. In March 2007the Portswood Depot received a small number of 07 registration Volvo B7TL's with Wright Eclipse Geminibodywork for use on service 8/8A.
The single deck fleet is comprised of
Dennis Dart SLFs with Plaxton Pointer 2 and smaller MPD versions for service 16, Volvo B10BLEwith Wright Renownbodywork and a number of Mercedes-Benz based minibuses.
A small number of American style yellow school buses are also allocated to Portswood Depot for use on school contracts, a pair of
Leyland Olympians with East Lancs bodywork are also frequently used on school services.
First inherited a large number of
Leyland Atlanteans from Southampton City Bus along with Leyland Lynxs and gas powered Dennis Darts. All of these have now been withdrawn from the Southampton fleet. First introduced a number of bus types that are also no longer in service in Southampton, these include Wright Solar Fusion bendy buses introduced in 2000but were transferred to First Glasgowin 2003after they proved unsuitable for a number of Southampton roads [ [http://archive.thisishampshire.net/2003/7/23/46261.html This is Hampshire.net - "Getting the hump" - Bendy buses have trouble over spped bumps] ] , former First Capital Dennis Arrows proved unpopular in Southampton and moved onto First Manchesterin 2006. First had operated Optare Solos on the free City-link service between Southampton Central Station, West Quay Shopping Centre and Town Quay, these left the Southampton fleet when First lost the City-link contract to Uni-link.
Weymouth, Bridport & Dorchester bus services
First services in Dorset were formerly those of Southern National. Unlike First services in
Hampshirethe Weymouth and Dorchester routes have been debranded and so routes are no longer referred to by colour under an "Overground" scheme. The X53 however retains its "Jurassic Coast" branding on buses and stops.
* [http://www.firstgroup.com/index.php First Group homepage]
* [http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/southwest/hampshire/home/index.php First Dorset and Hampshire Southampton and Portsmouth services]
* [http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/southwest/dorset/home/index.php First Dorset and Hampshire Weymouth and Dorchester services]
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