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|Parent||Go South Coast (part of the Go-Ahead Group)|
|Service type||Bus services|
|Chief executive||Andrew Wickham|
|Parent||Go South Coast (part of the Go-Ahead Group)|
|Service type||Bus services|
|Chief executive||Andrew Wickham|
Wilts & Dorset is a bus operator providing services in East Dorset, South Wiltshire and West Hampshire. It operates services around Bournemouth and Poole under the More brand and around Salisbury and Amesbury under the Salisbury Reds brand. It is a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group.
The current bus company has operated since 1983. Wilts & Dorset was also the name of a former Salisbury based bus company from 1915 until 1972.
The history of Wilts & Dorset is an interesting one, with its name both appearing and disappearing from the sides of buses. Its history is linked to that of erstwhile south coast operator, Hants & Dorset.
Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Limited was incorporated in 1915, with its head office in Amesbury, moving to Salisbury in 1917. The company's first route was between Salisbury and Amesbury. The company grew rapidly in the Andover, Amesbury, Blandford Forum, Pewsey and Salisbury areas. The Southern Railway and Thomas Tilling obtained shares in 1931, with Wilts & Dorset being nationalised in 1948. It acquired Venture of Basingstoke in 1950, with a reorganisation following the nationalisation of Venture’s parent, Red & White. Wilts & Dorset acquired Silver Star of Porton Down in June 1963.
In 1963 the management of Wilts & Dorset passed to Hants & Dorset, a neighbouring state-owned bus company. In 1969 both companies became part of the National Bus Company and in October 1972 were merged under the Hants & Dorset name with the Wilts & Dorset name ceasing to be used.
The Transport Act 1985 led to the privatisation of the National Bus Company. In preparation for privatisation, in April 1983 Hants & Dorset was split into three operating companies, one of which was Wilts & Dorset Bus Company.
The new Wilts & Dorset company's operating area was considerably larger than its older namesake, including Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth, Lymington and Salisbury, although not Basingstoke. Depots were located in Blandford Forum, Lymington, Pewsey, Poole, Ringwood, Salisbury and Sawanage.
In May 1993 the Damory Coaches, Blandford Forum was purchased followed in November 1993 by Oakfield Travel and Stanbridge & Crichel Bus Company and in January 1994 by Blandford Bus Company. All were combined under the Damory Coaches name.
In 2011, Wilts & Dorset started trialing a smart card ticketing system named ‘’the key’’; in 2012 it was launched across the entire network with passengers being able to save up to 33% instead of purchasing paper tickets.
In July 2012 it was announced that the Wilts & Dorset name would be dropped from bus services in favour of the More brand in Poole and Bournemouth and Salisbury Reds in Salisbury and Amesbury.
Wilts & Dorset operates a large number of services in East Dorset, West Hampshire and South Wiltshire under six different brand names. Bus services in Poole, Bournemouth and the surrounding areas are branded as More Bus. Bus services in Salisbury, Amesbury and the surrounding areas are branded as Salisbury Reds Buses.
more was originally launched in December 2004 as a premium service replacing routes 101 to 105 between Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch and routes 155, 156 and 157 between Poole and Canford Heath. The 'more' specification buses represented a £4 million investment and was originally due to launch in October 2004 but due to a driver shortage was postponed until December 2004. The service launched with 30 Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo B7RLE single-deck buses. 'more' buses carry a livery of mostly dark blue with red at the back; the original 30 also carried slogans such as "looks like a bus, works like a dream".
Such was the success of the 'more' services it was decided that the frequency on the m1 and m2 routes was to be increased and the m1 extended to the Castlepoint shopping centre on the outskirts of Bournemouth from Bournemouth railway station. With only 30 'more' branded buses in the fleet at the time, the 'more' branded routes to Canford Heath were discontinued, with the 'm' dropped from the route number and standard liveried vehicles used. For these routes to become 'more' route again a batch of Mercedes-Benz Citaros were ordered. The original 'more' buses were going to be Citaros, but it was thought that Volvo would offer a quicker delivery time. Further changes to the routes occurred on 25 May 2008, with the m2 being withdrawn from Burton (transferred to Route X12 which was later withdrawn also) and Somerford to terminate at Boscombe.
During 2010 the "more" brand was refreshed with every bus being repainted in a slightly brighter, simpler version of the previous livery, each highlighting a good reason for using the "more" buses, for example "morefrequent" was applied to Wright Volvo Eclipse 119 (now 2219) HF54 HGM.
In May 2011, routes m5 and m6 were once again dropped from the 'more' brand and renumbered as routes 5 and 6.
In June 2012, Wilts & Dorset announced a £5.5 million investment in 36 Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo buses to be used on m1/m2 routes whilst the previous 38 Wright Eclipse Urban Volvos and Mercedes-Benz Citaros would be cascaded onto other services replacing older buses (including Bluestar). Also at this time, Routes 8 and 9 became part of the 'more' brand.
On 30 May 2008 the more 'Nightbus' sub-brand launched with the m1's operating every half hour between Poole Bus Station and Charminster (Five Ways) and the m2's operating every half hour between Bournemouth Square and Iford Roundabout on Friday and Saturday nights.
During June 2010, the m1 nightbus was extended beyond the Five Ways to the Broadway Tavern another few minutes up Charminster Road. May 2011 saw the m2 nightbus route changed beyond Pokesdown to serve Southbourne (Fisherman's Walk).
In June 2012, a new nightbus route, the N3, was launched connecting Bournemouth to Bournemouth University. Also, all three services started operating on Thursday nights, in addition to Friday and Saturday nights.
On 21 February 2013 saw the withdrawal of the Thursday nightbus services, along with the N3 route.
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more operates four routes on behalf of Bournemouth University, having secured a second five-year contract to do so during summer 2009. Since 11 January 2010, these routes have been branded as 'The Bus for Bournemouth University' or 'The Bus for BU' with buses appearing in the institution's primary corporate colours of white and pink.
From 2004, when the university contract originally transferred to Wilts & Dorset from Yellow Buses, until the end of 2009 services were branded as Unilinx and operated by a mixed fleet of double-deck buses (Optare Spectras and brand-new Volvo B7TL ELC Myllennium Vyking convertibles) painted in a modified version of the 'more' livery. Unilinx-branded buses were also a common sight on non-Unilinx services, especially on service 152 (laterly the 52) where ELC Myllennium Vyking buses ran open top throughout the summer.
In 2009, when the university contract was renewed, eight buses of which six are Scania Enviro 400 double decker buses are used on the U1, U2 and U4 routes and a Scania Solar single deck bus for the U3 route were purchased new along with an ex-London articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus was introduced to route U1 on 10 January 2010, primarily running a shuttle service to boost capacity between Talbot Campus and the student residences at Lansdowne. It is believed to be the first such bus in service on the South Coast, and initially had its route number and destination blinds as part of its livery, including a misspelling of 'Cranborne' as 'Cranbourne' [sic] as this bus was used exclusively between Talbot Campus and Cranborne House. This Mercedes-Benz Citaro is now fitted with Hanover Displays LED displays. For the 2012-2013 academic year, a second articulated bus has been acquired, and the U1, U2 and U4 bus routes can see the articulated buses, the shuttle between Talbot and Lansdowne being re-routed to serve the new Dorchester House halls of residence as well as the other Lansdowne halls. All of the buses apart from the ex-London articulated bus were purchased new and arrived in January 2010 pushing out the Volvo B7TL's, which were then cascaded back into the Wilts & Dorset fleet after being re-painted into the latest livery. Outside of term times, BU-branded buses can often be seen running other more bus routes across the Poole and Bournemouth areas.
Originally started by Solent Blue Line (now Bluestar) in 2004, The New Forest Tour became jointly operated by Bluestar and Wilts & Dorset in the summer of 2011 (?) when the addition of a second route (Red Route) was operated by the Ringwood Depot (which is now in the 'more' area). A 3rd route, the Blue Route, will be added when the tour restarted for the summer of 2013.
From 4 June 2006, m5 was rerouted along Wimborne Road instead of via Park Gates
The m7 was dropped as part of the Poole route restructuring from 4 June 2006. Service on m5 and m6 increased as a result and a while later, lost their more branding and became standard routes during the changes of May 1, 2011.
The Wimborne Flyer, also known as service 3, replaced the Poole to Wimborne section of service 132 after the major restructuring of Poole services in June 2006. It runs four times an hour Monday to Saturday. The service differs from the old service 132 by taking a direct route between Poole and Broadstone, using a faster route through Merley and extending the service from Wimborne Square to the Leigh Park estate. The service when launched was almost exclusively operated by Mercedes-Benz Citaros in the new standard Wilts & Dorset livery, though 'more' Citaros and Wright Eclipse Urbans were also seen.
Local residents criticised the change of route, specifically through Merley where the buses took a narrower but more direct road through the estate. Some criticism has also been aimed at the Citaro buses after a number of accidents, including buses demolishing walls while trying to pass each other on a narrow road  and tearing hanging baskets from walls in Wimborne Square while turning. Following numerous complaints, Wilts & Dorset rerouted the service through Merley from 29 October 2006, reverting back to part of the old 132 route through Merley Gardens.
From 6 April 2008 two out of the four buses per hour started to run via Corfe Mullen rather than Merley with all services also stopping at Broadstone Broadway. Services to and from Leigh Park only run during the morning and evening peak. With the Wimborne Flyer now covering the section of route between Broadstone and Corfe Mullen, most service 4 journeys started to terminate at Broadstone.
As part of the 2012 June 3 network changes, the 3 was withdrawn and was merged with Route 4 extended beyond Broadstone to Wimborne either via Merley or Corfe Mullen. After many complaints, Route 4X was introduced between Poole & Broadstone/Merley via the old Route 3 during the morning and evening rush-hour towards the end of June 2012. Towards the end of July 2012 however, it was announced that Route 3 would be re-instated from September 17, 2012 and that both routes 3 & 4 would join the more brand.
PulseLine was the name of services round Salisbury to the District Hospital and ran until 2010 when the PulseLine brand was replaced by "Sailsbury Reds" using the previous Mercedes-Benz Citaros repainted in the revised Wilts & Dorset livery with "Sailsbury Reds" branding. In addition to the Citaros, ex Southern Vectis Dennis Dart MPDs were transferred and repainted into Wilts & Dorset bus livery with branding applied.
Eight routes use the Salisbury reds branding:
This service began operation in March 2001 to one park and ride site, Beehive, to the north of Salisbury city centre. A second site was opened at Wilton in 2005, and two more followed, taking the total to four. A fifth site was later opened at Petersfinger, to the south-east of the city.
Initially the routes used Optare Excels in a light green and white livery. In 2005 these were replaced by new Volvo B7RLEs, also in green and white; for a short period in late 2004 the service was operated using 'more' branded B7RLEs.
In February 2011 Wilts & Dorset lost the contract to operate the Salisbury Park and Ride network to independent operator Hatts Travel.
In August 2014, due to the collapse of the Hatts group, the Park & Ride contract was handed back to Salisbury Reds to run for Wiltshire Council.
The Stonehenge Tour was rebranded in 2008, linking Salisbury Rail Station, the city centre and Stonehenge. A recorded commentary describes the views along the length of the route. The tour was operated by Wills & Dorset Optare Spectras, but is now run using a combination of Scania Omnidekka and Scania Olympus vehicles, which have been specially painted in a New Stonehenge Tour Livery.
Activ8 is a joint half hourly service between Salisbury and Andover via Tidworth operated in partnership with Stagecoach South and supported by Wiltshire and Hampshire County Councils. The Activ8 brand was launched in February 2007. Wilts & Dorset primarily use specially branded Enviro 400s on the route, having previously used Scania OmniCitys and Optare Spectras.
Many former Wilts & Dorset buses have made it into preservation. Some of these can be seen at bus rallies and events inside and outside the company's operating area.
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