One of the double-deck Scania OmniCity buses used by Bluestar on the Uni-link services.
|Slogan||University bus links for everyone.|
|Headquarters||Barton Park, Eastleigh|
|Service area||Southampton University|
|Operator||Bluestar (division of Go-Ahead Group)|
Uni-link is the branded bus service operated under contract and serving the University of Southampton in Hampshire, England. The service was created in 1998 following the University's expansion onto several new campuses, requiring new transport links between them. The current contractor of the service is Bluestar, part of the Go-Ahead Group, who took over in 2008. The service also encourages use by members of the public outside the university community.
The foundations for the service began with the opening of the Southampton Oceanography Centre in 1996. Located in Southampton Docks, this was the first of the University's campuses that were not either within walking distance of the main campus or were self-contained (whose students had no need to travel to a different campus - Winchester School of Art and Southampton General Hospital being the main examples). As a result, the University launched the student only shuttle service to serve the new campus. The service ran every half hour with one service every hour running by Avenue Campus while the other ran by Portswood. The service was run by the Universities Business Services division.
First Southampton 
In 1998, the University made a three year agreement with local operator First Southampton to run a new bus service under the Uni-link name. First's service launched on 21 September 1998 and saw the introduction of three new routes, 101, 102 and 103, operated under the uni-link branding. First also rerouted their 4, 6, 11, 13 and 20 routes so that they would run closer to the University allowing better connections with other areas of Southampton. The company also ran two night services, labelled the 104 and the 105.
Minerva Accord 
In 2001, as the University's agreement with First finished, the University made some changes to the service following some dissatisfaction and some bad experiences with the service. The University made Uni-link a company itself and awarded the operation of this service under contract. The first contract winner was Minerva Accord, who started their 5 year contract at the beginning of the 2001/2002 academic year.
At launch, the company ran two main routes, the U1 and the U2, with a number of smaller routes and variations also in existence. Later in the life of the company, Uni-link launched the U6 and the U9 routes. As some of these routes, especially the U1, was used very heavily the company received various grants that allowed their fleets to expand. The company added it's last route in September 2005 when it was awarded a five year contract by Southampton City Council to run the City-link service shuttle service in Southampton city centre. This nearly doubled their passenger numbers, adding one million passengers per annum., March 2013 Missing or empty
In 2008, local bus company Bluestar were named as the winners of the next ten year contract to run the service. The service launched on 29 September 2008, coinciding with the new university year. The new company used a fleet comprising mainly of new vehicles.
In 2012, free Wi-Fi was installed on all Uni-link buses as a result of a £4.5 million investment from Transport for South Hampshire. Uni-link currently plan to replace it's current smart card system with The Key smartcard in July 2013, allowing better deals with other Go South Coast companies.
Uni-link operates four routes: U1, U2, U6 and U9. All routes run through the Uni-link interchange at Highfield campus to allow easier changing between services. The Interchange was refurbished in 2010 and opened on 21 September that year with an improved layout and facilities.
- U1: National Oceanography Centre - Town Quay - West Quay shopping centre - Southampton Central railway station - Civic Centre - London Road - The Avenue - Winn Road - Portswood - Highfield Campus and the Interchange - Burgess Road - Wessex Lane for halls - Wide Lane university sports ground - Southampton Airport. On the route, the U1A goes in the direction of the Airport and the U1C goes in the direction of the City. There is also a U1E service that heads to the Airport but then carries on into Eastleigh. This route runs every 10 minutes during weekday daytimes, reducing to 15 minutes during Saturday and Sunday daytimes and to every 20 minutes during evenings. The service also has an hourly Friday and Saturday nightbus service, called the U1N, that runs a slightly different route to avoid residential areas.
- U2: Civic Centre- London Road - The Avenue - Avenue Campus - Boldrewood Campus - Highfield Campus and the Interchange - Glen Eyre Halls - Basset Green for Bencraft Halls and Crematorium. On the route, the U2B goes to Basset Green while the U2C goes towards the Civic Centre. The route of the U2C varies from that of the U2B above in that it does not visit Avenue Campus, and instead goes straight down the Avenue from Bolderwood to London Road, and that it does not take the same route back to Glen Eyre, instead taking a route via Basset Avenue. This route runs every 30 minutes during University weekdays, on Saturday and Sunday morning, reducing to every 60 minutes during University vacations and Sunday evenings.
- U6: National Oceanography Centre - Town Quay - West Quay shopping centre - Civic Centre - Southampton Solent University - Royal South Hants Hospital - Portswood - Wessex Lane for halls - Highfield Campus and the Interchange - Bolderwood Campus - Southampton General Hospital. On this route, the U6H goes towards the Hospital while the U6C heads towards the City. The route runs every 20 minutes during weekday and Saturday saytimes and reduced to every 60 minutes at evenings and on Sundays.
- U9:Southampton General Hospital - Shirley - Wilton Road - Richard Taunton Sixth Form College - Bolderwood Campus - Highfield Campus and the Interchange - Portswood - Bitterne Park Triangle - Oaktree Road - Townhill Park. The route looks around Bitterne Park and Townhill Park and so serves a larger part of the area. The service only runs three times a day with two services running from Townhill Park to the General Hospital and one returning.
Previous routes 
- 101 - This route ran a route similar to that used by the several of today's services. The route ran between Southampton Airport Parkway railway station and the Southampton Oceanography Centre. The route taken between the Airport and Portswood is the same as that taken by the U1 today and the route south of Portswood to the Royal South Hants Hospital is that taken by the U6 today. From there, the route diverged towards First's bus stops near to the Bargate in the city before heading through the old town to the SOC.
- 102/103 - This route ran the route of the current day U2 but also visited Southampton Central railway station, the Coach station, the Red Funnel ferry terminal at Town Quay and the Southampton Oceanography Centre. The 102 was the route towards the City while the 103 headed north to the university. The route also had an attached shuttle bus between highfield Campus, Avenue Campus and New College.
- 104/105 - A nighttime service that served many of Southampton's nightlife hotspots, pubs and entertainment venues. The 104's oute mirrored that used by the 101 and the 105 mirrored the 102. The service ran every evening from Wednesday to Saturday.
The routes used by Accord vary from those used today in several ways.
- U1 - When the service launched in 2001 the route taken by the service varied from that used today and had various end points and destinations. All U1 buses ran between Highfield Campus, Portswood, the Royal South Hants Hospital and the Southampton Institute (now Southampton Solent University). However the route would differ from these points north and south of this route. At Highfield, services would separate with U1H service going to Southampton General Hospital, U1W services going to Wide Lane sports ground and Southampton Airport Parkway railway station and the U1E services going to Eastleigh. Equally, at the Southampton Institute, southbound U1 services would diverge with U1D services heading to the Docks and the Southampton Oceanography Centre via the Civic Centre, West Quay shopping centre and Town Quay, while the U1M would also head to the Docks and the SOC but would go via the Marsh Lane halls of residence and Ocean Village.
- U2 - When the service launched in 2001, like the U1, the service used various different destinations. The service would always run between the Civic Centre, the Southampton Institute, Dorset Street, The Avenue for New College, Avenue Campus, Boldrewood Campus and Highfield Campus. The routes do however diverse from these points. North of Highfield, the U2H runs to the Hospital, the U2W to Wessex Lane Halls, the U2B to Bencraft hall, the U2G to Glen Eyre halls, the U2S to Wellington Sports ground and the occasional U2N service to Winchester School of Art. South of the Civic Centre, the U2R ceases at Southampton Central railway station while the U2D carries onto the Docks and the SOC via the Coach Station and Town Quay.
- U9 - The service was introduced in September 2004 and ran to the present route with the exception that the service did not originally finish at Southampton General Hospital but instead ran to Shirley in a loop. It changed to its current route c.2006. The service also ran at a normal frequency rather than the current service.
- U20 - Ran between Marsh Lane halls, Bargate and West Quay shopping station, the Civic Centre, the Southampton Institute, Dorset Street, The Avenue for New College, Portswood, Highfield Campus, Swaythling, Wessex Lane Halls, Wide Lane and Southampton Airport Parkway railway station with some services also stopping at Mansbridge. The route was discontinued c. January 2002.
- U3 - Introduced at the beginning of 2002 and discontinued by September of that year the route served the SOC, Town Quay, the Civic Centre, the Southampton Institute, Portswood, Highfield Campus, Boldrewood Campus and Bencraft hall of residence.
- U4 - Introduced in late 2003, this originally ran as a shuttle service between Wessex Lane Halls and Highfield Campus in between the scheduled services of the U1 and the U6 in the morning rush hour. The service was later extended so that it ran to Southampton Central railway station by following the route of the U2 between Highfield and the Station during term times. However, improvements in the U1 and U6 service removed the need for this additional service and it was discontinued.
- U7 - This service ran on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to the Sainsbury's superstore in Hedge End. These few services ran alternately from the main halls of residences and the Highfield campus before going to the store. The service started in September 2001 and terminated c.February 2004.
- U8 - The service ran every weekday evening during term time and Thursday evenings during vacations and ran a route linking all of the halls of residences before continuing to the Asda in Chandler's Ford. Originally called the U2A between 2001 and 2003, it's name changed to U8 in 2004.
- U10 - The service ran from the halls and the University in the north to Southampton Central railway station via Wessex Lane, Portswood, the Avenue and St. Mary's. There was only one service a day, running to the station in the morning and back at midday, and only operated on Sundays during term time between 2002 and 2003.
- City-link - A free shuttle bus that ran in the City Centre between Southampton Central railway station, Marlands Shopping Centre, West Quay shopping centre and the Red Funnel ferry terminals on Town Quay. This service, funded by West Quay, Red Funnel, South West Trains and Southampton City Council, was awarded to Accord in a five year deal. When Accord lost the Uni-link contract, Bluestar agreed to continue the contract separate from the Uni-link operation.
- Trial Glen Eyre shuttle - A brief trial service that ran between Glen Eyre halls and Highfield interchange to take some pressure off of the U2. The trial ended in 2007.
The current fleet used by Bluestar for the Uni-link service comprise of:
- 9 Double-deck Scania OmniCity buses purchased by Bluestar prior to taking over the contract in September 2008.
- 12 Single-deck Scania OmniCity buses. Of the twelve, nine were new purchases in September 2008, one was inherited by Bluestar from Minerva Accord and two were purchased in 2011. The ex-Accord bus is distinctive in its differing interior decoration and seat design.
- 4 Volvo B7TL/Plaxton President double decker buses, formerly of London General.
- 1 East Lancashire-bodied Scania OmniDekka double decker bus. This is painted in a special Bluestar/Uni-link hybrid livery with the intention that the bus could be used on both routes, however it is used almost solely by Bluestar at present.
All vehicles carry the same livery of white and light blue, matching the Universities new corporate colour. All buses carry the University logo at the rear with the Uni-link logo on white at the front.
- 9 Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dennis Dart SLF single decker buses purchased in December 2001 to replace the leased fleet.
- 1 MCV Evolution single decker bus, brought into the fleet in April 2007.
- 5 East Lancashire-bodied Scania OmniDekka double decker buses. Four were purchased in 2004 and another in 2005 to relieve congestion on the U1 route.
- 1 Scania OmniCity single decker bus. This bus stayed with Uni-link following the transition.
- 1 Alexander Dennis Enviro300 single decker bus, it entered service in September 2005.
- 2 East Lancashire Myllennium-bodied Alexander Dennis Dart SLF single decker buses. These buses were purchased following the award of the City-link shuttle contract to the company.
- 2 Mercedes-Benz Citaro single decker buses. These were on long term lease from Wilts & Dorset and were to leased to relieve congestion on the U1.
At the beginning, several other buses of varying makes and models were used that were leased from various sources.
See also 
- "Bus Service 93/93a". University of Southampton Bulletin 3 (20): 1. 3 February 1997.
- The University of Southampton: An Illustrated History (PaperbackISBN 0907383947.). James & James. 2002. p. 126.
- "A new look for Uni-link". University of Southampton Bulletin 7 (45): 1. 3 September 2001.
- "From Campus-link to uni-link!". University of Southampton Bulletin 4 (47): 1. 24 August 1998.
- "Company Information". Uni-link (Bluestar). Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "New additions to the uni-link fleet unveiled". University of Southampton Bulletin: 3. 19 July 2004.
- "More U1 buses for you on weekends". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "U1: Airport Parkway Station - Dock Gate 4". Service details. Uni-link (Bluestar). Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U2:Civic Centre - Bassett Green/Crematorium". Service Details. Uni-link (Bluestar). Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U6: Dock Gate 4 - Leisure World - Highfield - General Hospital". Service Details. Uni-link (Bluestar). Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U9: Townhill Park - Coxford Road". Service details. Uni-link (Bluestar). Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "101". Uni-link (First). Archived from the original on 26 April 2001. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "102/103". Uni-link (First). Archived from the original on 23 February 2001. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "104/105". Uni-link (First). Archived from the original on 26 April 2001. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Good news for University bus passengers". University of Southampton Bulletin 7 (47): 3. 24 September 2001.
- "U9 Timetable". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 4 December 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Route U3". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 9 March 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U4". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 29 December 2003. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U4". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 20 June 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U7 Shopper". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 18 March 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U2A". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 29 April 2003. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "U10". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 26 October 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Post image - Photo showing new OmniCitys on delivery Accessed September 26, 2008.
- Post image - Photo showing new OmniCity on delivery Accessed September 2008.
- "Minerva Accord 'uni-link' Fleetlist (June 2006)". Uni-link (Accord). Archived from the original on 8 July 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
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