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An open-top bus is back in Southsea

Friday 20th August 2021

A new name to the open-top bus scene this year is Reading based coach operator Aldermaston Coach Lines, the trading name of Southern Coach Lines Ltd.

It’s reportedly been nine years since Southsea enjoyed an open-top bus service but now Aldermaston owner and managing director Nick Morton has introduced a service to awaken nostalgic memories of open-top rides along the seafront from years gone by.

Route 26 (actually it’s called OpenTop26.com) began running daily along Southsea Esplanade for the school summer holiday with an hourly timetable on 24th July so I thought it was high time I caught up with it and take a ride to see how it’s doing.

The bus being used is an eighteen year old former London United Dennis Trident with an Alexander ALX400 body that’s been converted to open top and seen service with the Bath Bus Company in Windsor.

It’s still in its unmissable bright red livery from its time in Windsor complete with white crest and now featuring a line route diagram identifying the main places served along the three mile seafront between Clarence Pier, South Parade Pier and Eastney.

Journeys run between 10:30 and 16:30 from Clarence Pier with a round trip to Eastney and back taking a leisurely 45 minutes.

As you can see the seats are nice and bright to match the livery.

Services like this are very weather dependent but even though my visit to Southsea on Wednesday was a bit dull and overcast I was pleased to see a few passengers attracted to have a ride on board and awareness looked to be good, helped by the bus trundling up and down every hour…

… as well as bus stops flags along the route having OpenTop26.com stickers added. Timetable information is posted or a QR code taking you to a ‘real time’ departure list.

The ride takes in a seafront full of variety including … the large War Memorial adjacent to Southsea Common…

… (which is currently been prepared for a large event over the Bank Holiday weekend – the Victorious Festival – it’s “the UK’s biggest and best alcohol and drug-free music festival for young people featuring three stages of live music, showcasing everything from internationally acclaimed bands to local up and coming acts”) …

… the D-Day Museum…

… the Pyramids leisure centre …

… South Parade Pier …

… and the Canoe Lake opposite …

… Southsea Model Village and the bright coloured beach huts, although not on the beach, and not much in use either …

… some very attractive floral displays …

… the Royal Marines Museum …

… the desolate Eastney Esplanade …

… and the terminal point alongside the Henderson Road not-mobile home park in Eastney …

… where the bus stop is suitably adorned with a sticker and timetable …

… and then it’s all the way back with the seafront highlights on the opposite side ….(you get the idea) …

… until arriving back at Clarence Pier again.

It all makes for an interesting 45 minute round trip and at £5 adults, £4 oap and £3.50 child (+ £15 family) it’s a nice way to see the seafront. And receive a ticket from a vintage ticket machine coupled to a state-of-the-art card reader.

OpenTop26.com runs until Sunday 5th September. I hope it’s a success and the sun shines down on it in the remaining couple of weeks to encourage more passengers on board as it will be good to see it back in 2022.

Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.

5 thoughts on “An open-top bus is back in Southsea Leave a comment

  1. It would be good to see Nick Morton make a success of this; albeit I feel that with no connection to a railhead, some of the traffic will not be there.

    Saying that, with an hourly frequency, it only takes Gunwharf Quays to have a minor parking delay and that’s the timetable out of the window.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blimey, if that is a vintage ticket machine I must be very old indeed. I was expecting a setright with a handle!

    Seriously, if this is running next year it will be included on our motor home tour of the south coast.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There is a second bus – a partial open top Scania also from Bath Bus company – for wetter days. At least this means that an open topper is almost guaranteed. If only some larger operators could say the same . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Aldermaston fleetname feels a bit remote, to me, for a service in Southsea. I would have been tempted to use the Southern Coachlines fleetname for this service. But it’s Mr Morton’s business and he can call it whatever he likes, can’t be.

    Like

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