Go Ahead is "profoundly disappointed" at the lost opportunity to create a totally integrated bus service in east Dorset. So disappointed, in fact, that it has changed its overall approach to the way the boardroom interacts with its subsidiaries. One manifestation is the creation of Go South Coast.
However, the Wilts & Dorset/Yellow Buses failure has in no way tempered subsidiary Go South Coast’s enthusiasm for the integrated concept.
As the south coast desperately awaits news of when and whether Yellow Buses will transfer from council to Transdev ownership, there starts today yet further competition for Yellow Buses, in the shape of an extended service on Go South Coast’s (Wilts & Dorset’s) 158/9/60.
W&D is clearly continuing with the integrated cross-conurbation approach. The 158/9/60s, previously from Poole to Bournemouth via Oakdale & Alderney, now extend up to three times an hour to Christchurch, via Fisherman’s Walk & Tuckton Bridge, competing directly with Yellow Buses’ quarter-hourly 23 and half-hourly 22, though offering those important cross-Bournemouth travel opportunities.
This latest development brings W&D’s onslaught against Yellow Buses to a fifth corridor:
- Bournemouth – Christchurch (more)
- Bournemouth – Castlepoint (more)
- Bournemouth – West Howe
- Bournemouth – Winton corridor
- Bournemouth – Christchurch via Tuckton Bridge
Go Ahead has always stressed that local control generates local goodwill. Speaking in Transit Magazine on 2 December, chief executive Christopher Moyes cites the Bournemouth affair (the failure to purchase Yellow Buses) as an example of where sometimes it just doesn’t pay to be too local.
In spite of the well known Brighton & Hove model of integration, why does he feel that Bournemouth council rejected Go Ahead and its "extraordinary benefits?" Moyes says "the value and reputation that underpins Go Ahead’s operations is unknown". Hence Go South Coast. Hence the recent trade press advertising campaigns. Hence bringing senior managers more together.
So far as Bournemouth & Yellow Buses is concerned, the horse has bolted for Go Ahead. But with clever use of resources in Poolemouth, Go Ahead’s still creating that co-ordinated network.
The sound of silence from both Bournemouth council and Transdev may be overwhelming, and who knows the effect W&D's competition is having. Rumours point to either a cold-footed Transdev pullout or concluding a deal by Christmas. Whatever happens, Poole, Bournemouth & Christchurch are in for interesting times, the likes of which they have never seen before.