First Hampshire & Dorset


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, Southampton and operates bus services in the Weymouth and Bridport areas in Dorset; and services in Southampton (Portswood Depot), Portsmouth (Hilsea Depot), Fareham and Gosport (Hoeford Depot).

History

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 National were made, with the company being renamed "First Hampshire & Dorset" in 2003.

In December 2006 the 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.

outhampton services

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 Line and Uni-link.

Fleet

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 Palatine 1 bodywork. All of these are second hand, the double door vehicles coming from Go-Ahead's London operations and Stagecoach. The company also has sixteen Volvo B7TL's with Alexander ALX400 bodywork. 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 2007 the Portswood Depot received a small number of 07 registration Volvo B7TL's with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork 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 B10BLE with Wright Renown bodywork 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 2000 but were transferred to First Glasgow in 2003 after 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 Manchester in 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 Hampshire the 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.

References

External links

* [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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