Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sneak a peak at Somerset

What's happening in Somerset? First have rebranded their network centred on Taunton as The Buses Of Somerset. There's a new green livery and a website with a network map that uses the same styling as the Go Ahead group.

It doesn't look like part of First, so is it being sold?

A look at the fares page, shows a network day ticket of £10...

Before, passengers on this network could use a FirstDay South West at just £7...

... not only cheaper, but valid across a much, much wider area.

This will mean fewer tourists from surrounding areas connecting with these routes to visit central Somerset. Of course, anyone 'lucky' enough to be on this new network is now cut off from the wider First network unless they pay again at the new boundary, be that in Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil or Wells.

After the chaos of competition following deregulation, we've had the benefits of consolidation on wide networks and those wide networks are now seemingly being dismantled (by First at least) from within to make sure that they are of use to as tight a demographic as possible. Whatever happened to buses working in the interests of the wider economy, for all?


  1. Nice looking website, but...
    - too much reliance on PDFs instead of pages
    - the usual lack of detailed fares information
    - day tickets look overpriced when compared to multi-day tickets

  2. Fares have come up considerably and less availability, Not very good a step backwards. Likely to result in fewer people using the services. Like many areas now if there are two of you a taxi is frequently cheaper

  3. Somerset proposed bus cuts


  4. It has been reported elsewhere, still awaiting confirmation that this is the case, that you can still use a FirstDay South West on Buses in Somerset you just can't buy one on them which means that passengers travelling in from outside have a cheaper day ticket than locals (occasionally happens but could have been avoided) and that you can travel from Bristol to Taunton on one ticket but not the other way round which is just plain stupid. The market for these sort of day tickets is not large but this sort of confusing inconsistency is unhelpful - it would have made more sense to have put the price of a FirstDay SouthWest to £10 & made it available on both with a FirstDay Avon at a cheaper price for local travel on the remains of First S&A.

    Anonybus - I would have said that rather than day tickets looking overpriced, instead multi-day tickets are being given a larger than average discount and this is something that is becoming more common at a number of companies. Stagecoach have adopted this approach in many areas to shift more passengers from paying daily to tying them into longer period travel tickets, this has a number of advantages including helping to speed journey times and cash handling and in areas with competition can aid customer loyalty as once they have a season ticket they are more likely to let the competition passed than if travelling on singles. As an operator you just have to balance the revenue loss of the switch to cheaper tickets against the forward payment of travel, the resource/reliability improvement and the likely passenger increase from offering cheaper season tickets. Cheaper season tickets are also very good prices to headline and are much easier to market than lots of individual single & return prices as a simple marketing message.

    That said the local zone tickets don't look as good a deal, you would normally expect to see them priced at 3 or 4 days travel to give your main market, commuters, a good deal (£12 in this case looking at the return ticket price in the local zones) whereas here you would have to make 5 return trips to break even and for most passengers that means using on weekends to make it worthwhile, particularly given that it appears that the single & return tickets allow a change of bus for the same price (a positive innovation that should be applauded as it isn't common in the UK industry) so the other draw of season tickets to users who have to use more than 1 bus to reach their destination also doesn't apply.

  5. A maximum day return of £7.50 is interesting though (even if you need to change buses to reach your destination, so it says). Perhaps people are more inclined to buy returns in this part of the world, or they will be now if the all day ticket is £10!

  6. The vast majority of day tickets were bought because they capped the return fare, not because customers wanted a day ticket. First Day plus tickets are accepted on Buses of Somerset and buses of Somerset Day plus tickets are accepted by both neighbouring regions. There will be a further fare revision which will include the introduction of through fares across the full Buses of Somerset network shortly. The £7.50 maximum return is an interim.

  7. Operators who have concessionary fares schemes where the average fare they are paid is set by a basket of fares have a problem with day tickets. Councils who decide that a day ticket represents a high number of journeys effectively dilute the average fare by doing so. I believe that Somerset are one of the worst offenders by counting a day ticket as four journeys. Operators will understandably want to try and sell returns rather than day tickets. It looks like someone at buses of Somerset understands the Somerset concessionary fares scheme!?

    1. That though discourages fare paying passengers as the fair are now very high for a very basic service and do not look good value
      and in fact in many cases if their are two or you going by car or taxi is far cheaper.
      Bus companies are pricing themselves out of the market leaving themselves with just free pass travellers

  8. Would you seriously hint that First would spend so much effort, money and precious management time doing this just to sell it?
    Buses of Somerset isn't for sale.

    1. I would say it looks almost certain that they wish to sell it

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