Classic Yellow Buses operated last season's Seafront 12
Even so, the news that there will be no yellow open tops this season will come as a disappointment to free travelling nostalgists and holiday makers alike. The reality is that the Bournemouth open top coastal service is not commercial. We explained the reasons why and the nation's changing open top habits some while ago.
Since Transdev's involvement in Bournemouth, the service 12 open top's been in some doubt. The 2006 season was marketed on a use it or lose it basis. It operated from the rail station in a bid to attract more tourists. In 2007, TYB reverted to a fuller service, from Hengestbury Head to Sandbanks, albeit using the same two of three vehicles at a less than attractive 90-minute frequency. In 2008, Classic Yellow Buses took on the mantle in partnership with TYB. Using refurbished heritage stock including memorably an ex-Bournemouth Corporation vehicle, the partnership offered a frequent shuttle service between the two piers. The service was extended into the autumn with a promise of an Easter 2009 restart. This was pushed back to high season and, now, not at all.
One of three TYB convertible open tops with lid on, last summer, on the Poole-Somerfords
Readers on the south coast will recall last summer's poor weather. Numbers on the 12 never quite matched expectations and traditional family visits were down (even though overall numbers were up). There was nevertheless much talk of this year being a second and more successful year of operation. Until recently. The recession seems to have put paid to that, in spite of promised good weather and more people holidaying at home.
In pre-Transdev times, the traditional 12 rests at Alum Chine
And, of course, TYB itself can ill-afford to 'waste' up to two of its three convertible double decks when they're needed, lids on, on the network itself. To do otherwise would be purely sentimental.
Open top aficionados will not be totally disappointed, though. Wilts & Dorset will offer them on the 50 (Bournemouth-Sandbanks-Swanage), this year using its brand new Olympuses (closed top versions will also appear on the 40 (Poole-Wareham-Swanage). As mentioned on this blog, these vehicles will be in an unusual and attractive livery—now revealed as blue and green. But there won't be open tops on the Lymingtons.