First pulling out of Southampton
Go-Ahead steps in to replace services
First Bus is to close its bus depot in Southampton and withdraw all of its City Red services in the area with effect from 19 February 2023.
Go Ahead-Group-owned Bluestar is stepping in to run additional services across Southampton in First’s stead.
Operations from First South’s depot in Southampton have not been sustainable for some considerable time, according to the company and this was only made worse by the impact of the pandemic.
First Bus plans to identify opportunities to transfer its staff to alternative employment within the business, including its two depots in the Solent area. The First Bus South team is currently working with Southampton City Council to ensure a smooth transition and keep disruption to a minimum as it prepares to exit its operations in the city.
“Lower customer numbers post-Covid, rising costs, changes in travel patterns and insufficient demand for the number of buses operating in the city’s competitive market have all added extra pressure” – Simon Goff, Managing Director for First South
Simon Goff, Managing Director for First South, said: “We are extremely disappointed to have to take this decision to close our Southampton depot and withdraw all services from the city.
“The proposals to close the depot should not in any way detract from the commitment of our colleagues in Southampton, who have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible service to the local community against the backdrop one of the most challenging situations ever to face the transport industry.
“This isn’t a process that we have entered into lightly. Lower customer numbers post-Covid, rising costs, changes in travel patterns and insufficient demand for the number of buses operating in the city’s competitive market have all added extra pressure. This has led to this difficult decision being taken and meant the business is simply no longer sustainable.
“We will continue to operate our services as usual until 19 February, working closely with our local stakeholders to demonstrate our commitment to continue delivering for our customers for the remainder of our time in service to the Southampton community.”
“…we aim to transform Southampton bus services for the better over the coming months and years” – Andrew Wickham, Bluestar managing director
Bluestar’s parent company, Go South Coast, stepped in to run services in the Bournemouth area when Bournemouth Transport Ltd (Yellow Buses) collapsed. Commenting on its expansion into the Dorset town, Andrew Wickham, Bluestar managing director, said: “With little more than 48 hours’ notice, our team at Morebus recruited more than 100 new staff, and implemented a raft of new services in-and-around Bournemouth and Poole. Despite its speedy introduction, the new operation got off to a fantastic start – and continues to run smoothly across the region.
“On this occasion, we have a little more time, and are already planning the new routes and timetables. We will announce these as soon as they are complete.
“We are very proud to be helping to keep our communities running. And we look forward to welcoming new colleagues and customers on board, as we aim to transform Southampton bus services for the better over the coming months and years.”