Sureline

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Sureline
Founded 2002
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Unit 17, Tradecroft Industrial Estate, Isle of Portland, Dorset[1]
Service area  United Kingdom
Service type Urban bus services
Destinations Isle of Portland, Weymouth, Dorchester, Bridport, Yeovil
Fleet 15[2]

Sureline was a bus operator based in the Isle of Portland, Dorset, on the south coast of England. It operated a contracted route from Portland, through Weymouth to Dorchester. It was formed in 2002 and became defunct in 2009, when the Sureline operation was taken over by South West Coaches.[3]

History[edit]

On 24 August 2002, a new bus operator started service along the Portland - Weymouth - Dorchester route, which had seen a lot of competition over the previous years between various companies such as Weybus, Smiths of Portland, Dorset Transit and Southern National - the latter who had offered service exclusively along the route for a period in the last recent years, before they became part of the First group. The original founders of Sureline were David Beaman and Bill Landucci.

At first, Sureline only operated on weekdays, and the main service X10 ran every 30 minutes from Portland's southerly village Southwell and the length of the Isle of Portland through Wyke Regis village to Weymouth, before passing through Upwey to get to Dorchester. A peak journey ended up being diverted as the X20 to serve the Granby Industrial Estate in Weymouth. The 1X operated every fifteen minutes between Southwell and Weymouth on Saturdays, however no evening or Sunday services existed at the time. By 9 November 2002, the frequency of the Portland - Weymouth route was enhanced to 15 minutes during weekdays and 10 minutes on Saturdays. Sureline's southern terminus also moved on exactly the same date from Southwell's Eight Kings pub to Sweethill, Ripcroft.[3]

Sureline was first based at the industrial estate of Southwell Business Park, however the operator moved to Tradecroft Industrial Estate, near the village of Easton in mid-July 2003. Sureline would remain at the estate until their demise, where both David Beaman and Bill Landucci presided over the operation, and both men had worked locally at various times previously; Landucci as operations manager for Dorset Transit and Beaman as general manager for Southern National. The initial fleet consisted of eight 25-seater Mercedes 709's, five of which were required for daily run-outs. Two more similar vehicles were acquired in November 2002 and two more followed in February 2003. This increased Sureline's fleet up to twelve buses, and seven of these were required daily for services.

By Easter 2003, Sureline decided to expand their services, with buses on the X10 route from Portland to Weymouth and Dorchester running every 20 minutes, whilst the route was also extended to Portland Bill once an provide service to the residential area of Southill. Additionally, a new route X6 between Weymouth and Wyke Regis debuted in May. In the summer of the year, Sureline began to run a service to Portland Bill every 20 minutes, and introduced at the Weymouth Carnival in August was Sureline's first open-topper, which became a popular attraction and was given the name Gemma after that year's Carnival Queen. In November 2003 a new and competitive route X7 was started, which linked Weymouth to Downclose Estate.

In the summer of 2004, new timetable was created from 8 May with a 20-minute service running through to Portland Bill, along with the arrival of two Dennis Dart 33-seaters in Sureline's fleet, whilst one of the Mercedes 709s had been withdrawn for scrap. Around the same time, the X6 Weymouth to Wyke Regis service was altered to serve Camp Road. In addition, a new X25 service was created that ran from Portland and Weymouth area to Lulworth Cove and Monkey World (marketed as the "Conservation Express"). This was for the summer season only and started at the end of May. The service started with one of the new Darts but open-top double deck Leyland Fleetlines hired from Bournemouth Yellow Buses ran the service six days a week during the peak months of July and August. In July, a new bus was purchased from Don Prentis Coaches of Haddington, whilst other changes to the fleet continued, and a new contract for an ASDA supermarket bus, as well as new contracts to Kingston Maurward College were made.

In conjunction with the local Wednesday market, the bus operator Barrys Coaches had started a route in 1981 which led from Wyke Regis and Abbotsbury to Dorchester. In the years leading up to later 2004, the service was run by Wessex Bus, however Sureline took over this service as route 61 from autumn 2004. From the end of January 2005, Sureline expanded their route and began to run the 43 Askerswell-Bridport and the 73 Maiden Newton-Bridport services - the latter service originally run by Pearce of Cattistock. In 2005, further developments included the takeover by Sureline from First of the 7/7A Weymouth - Portland Verne routes as from 29 May, and as a result the X7 and X7A from Downclose Estate were extended to Portland and The Verne. A former Weaverbus route, which travelled from Weymouth to Winfrith Technology Centre became the Sureline service X30 from 25 July, and was extended to run to and from Portland area. The X25 Conservation Express open-topper route to Lulworth Cove and Monkey World was reintroduced for the summer period of 3 July to 2 September 2005, whilst the service 73 Maiden Newton to Bridport had a new dedicated easy access Mercedes midibus from 25 July and operated on a semi-flexible basis with on-demand off-route diversions (marketed by the Dorset County Council as "Door to Dorset").[3]

Beginning on 8 August 2005, Sureline revised the weekday route of the X10 service, and this was in order to serve St. George's Estate on Portland, whilst also the National Sailing Academy on request. A month later, Sureline took over the operation of services 212 Dorchester - Maiden Newton - Cattistock - Yeovil and 216 Dorchester - Cerne Abbas - Sherborne - Yeovil with an improved timetable on a two hourly headway circuit of the two routes combined. Now operated by First, the 212 service was a direct descendant of the former services of Pearce of Cattistock, whilst the 216 service had been operated for many years by Bere Regis. In early September, the ASDA free bus services in Weymouth were withdrawn after the close of service. In the Spring of 2006, a new Sureline maintenance facility opened at Southwell Business Park, and some alterations to the operator's services were made and placed into effect from 24 April. After three and half years since establishment, the Sureline company now employed approximately thirty drivers, and had a peak vehicle requirement of fourteen.

On 24 July 2006, new timetable changes were again put into place, and this included the new X37 fast bus between Weymouth, Dorchester and Yeovil, which offered convenient timings for students at Yeovil College and Yeovil District Hospital nurses amongst other journeys. During the time, the buses now operated from the Portland Tradecroft depot, with none outstationed at Dorchester, which had previously been the case for the 212 and 216 routes. Additionally, a new Summer only route was put into place which went from the Seaview Holiday Camp to Weymouth, however the X25 open top service was no longer in operation. Instead, Monkey World started to run their own shuttle bus service to and from Wool railway station.

In January 2007, timetable revisions included a reduction of service on the Portland Verne and Grove sections of routes X7 and X7A, along with a reduction of Saturday operations on the main Portland - Weymouth - Dorchester route, which now consisted principally of positioning journeys for the 212 and 216 services at Dorchester. On 2 April 2007, further changes were made, particularly within the north area of Dorchester, with Sureline still operating commercially on the 212 through Cattistock to Yeovil but now on weekdays only. The Saturday operation of the 212, together with the Dorchester via Cerne Abbas to Sherborne and Yeovil 216 route and the Damory Coaches routes through the Piddle Valley were largely replaced by Door-to-Dorset flexible demand responsive services, sponsored by the county council and operated by Nordcat of Sturminster Newton. This change had already occurred on the Sureline Maiden Newton - Bridport 73 service, as well as north of Wimborne on the Nordcat ex-Stanbridge 300 routes, also east of Dorchester on the Nordcat 101/103 routes to Wool, Bovington and Lulworth. The majority of these journeys had to be booked in advance by phone and could only be used by clients who had registered in advance as service users.

On 26 November 2007, a new X14 route provided two off peak journeys as a shopping service operating on schooldays from the Brackendown Avenue area of Preston to Weymouth. Further timetable changes were put into effect on 2 January 2008 on routes X7A, X10, X37 and 212, including provision of a daily shopping journey from Chickerell to Dorchester by diverting one of the X10 journeys, whilst further changes were made on 1 September 2007. The timetable for the 212 and X37 services from Dorchester to Yeovil was amended on 26 January 2009, and this change caused the routes to run on schooldays only. The Door-to-Dorset service D11 covered the route on non-schooldays and Saturdays. A further timetable revision on 20 April concentrated the main thrust of the operation of the X10 and X20 routes on to the Weymouth to Dorchester sector, with much reduced service to and from Portland, despite being the original principal thrust of the competitive operation when Sureline were established.

On 26 October 2009 the Sureline operation was taken over by South West Coaches of Wincanton, who were also the successors to the long established Wakes of Sparkford and Wincanton. Both Sureline founders Beaman and Landucci left the company. To date, the new owners continue many of the services that were provided by Sureline including the original route to Portland. However big changes to bus services took effect in February 2013, with the reason cited as being lack of adequate recompense for carrying concessionary pass holders.[3]

Beaman had revealed the decision to sell the company to South West Coaches was made to safeguard its future, whilst he also blamed the move on growing government regulations for small bus firms and increasing difficulties in generating profits. In late 2009, staff had gathered at Sureline's headquarters to meet South West Coach's managing director Alan Graham and commercial director Steve Caine. Graham had told Sureline's 30-strong team that he welcomed taking on the firm's operations and described Portland as having 'significant development potential' particularly in light of the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games, whilst also revealing that that South West Coaches has also purchased more low-floor buses as a sign of their commitment and that all Sureline services will continue to operate unaffected. Dorset County Council had allowed all current contracts with Sureline to be transferred to the new operator.[2]

In regards to the ending of the Sureline operation, Beaman had been quoted in a Dorset Echo of the time, "The legislative scene that regulates the operation of local bus services was making it increasingly difficult for a small company such as Sureline to operate efficiently and generate the funds necessary to invest in the bus fleet. Against this backdrop, Sureline's future is now to be part of a bigger group that had the resources to further develop the services currently operated and invest in the bus fleet."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sureline Coach Operators, Unit 17, Portland, DT5 2LN - Bus Operators and Stations". Directory.thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "End of the Sureline for Portland (From Dorset Echo)". Dorsetecho.co.uk. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Sureline". Countrybus.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-10.