Bluestar[1] is a bus operator proving services in Hampshire. It is a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group.


Solent Blue Line was formed by Southern Vectis in May 1987 to compete with Southampton Citybus on some of its major routes with some Bristol VRTs.[2]

In October 1987 Solent Blue Line purchased the Hants & Sussex[3] business from Basil Williams and the Eastleigh and Southampton routes which had previously been part of Hants & Dorset, from Stagecoach in Hampshire. This expanded the fleet from 16 to 115 buses. New buses began to be purchased with Leyland Olympians for the Southampton to Winchester service and minibuses for the Eastleigh to Winchester service. Some services were operated under franchise by Brijan Tours and Marchwood Motorways.[4]

From here the network expanded until in 2003 the network underwent a change, involving a new name and the launch of the Bluestar brand soon after, as a name for their premier services[5] with Bluestar services one and two launching in 2004,[6] the three and four service launching a year later[7] and the waterside services eight and nine having fully launched by 2006.[8]

In July 2005 Solent Blue Line was included in the sale of Southern Vectis to the Go-Ahead Group[9][10] and subsequently the head office functions of the company were consolidated with those of the other Go South Coast companies, Southern Vectis and Wilts & Dorset, in Poole. In October 2006 Solent Blue Line purchased Marchwood Motorways[11][12][13][14]

After the withdrawal of the Red Rocket brand on 25 February 2008, most of the company's services began to run under the Bluestar brand. The fleet has recently undergone several updates, including the introduction of a smartcard system called the key,[15] and the introduction of free Wi-Fi internet to all buses.[16][17]


The company itself holds the original name of Solent Blue Line, however none of the buses it operates use this branding, the last few buses using this branding was incorporated into the Bluestar network in 2008. As a result a number of sub brands are used for the bus services.


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Bluestar was originally launched in 2004 as a premium service running main routes. However since 2008 the service has become the main brand for the company. The vast majority of these services terminate in Southampton, with the exceptions of routes 16 and 18, which pass through the city, and route 5 which doesn't go through the city centre.[18] These routes are:

  • Bluestar 1: Southampton - Bassett - Chandlers Ford - Otterbourne - Winchester. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime and every 30 minutes during Sunday daytime.[19]
  • Bluestar 2: Southampton - Portswood - Eastleigh - Bishopstoke - Fair Oak. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime and every hour during Sunday daytime.[20]
  • Bluestar 3: Southampton - Bitterne - Hedge End - Kings Copse - Botley. The service runs hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime and a reduced hourly Sunday daytime schedule.[21]
  • Bluestar 4: Southampton - Shirley - Lords Hill - North Baddesley - Romsey. The service runs hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime and a reduced hourly Sunday daytime schedule.[22]
  • Bluestar 5: Romsey - North Baddesley - Eastleigh. The service operates irregularly during Monday to Friday daytime and a limited service on Saturdays, partly due to an existing parallel service operated by Wilts and Dorset.[23]
  • Bluestar 6: Southampton - Totton - Rushington - Lyndhurst - Brockenhurst - Lymington. The service ran every hour to Lymington and in addition ran only to Rushington every other half hour Monday to Saturday daytime and irregularly to Lymington during Sunday daytime. The service transferred to Wilts and Dorset's Lymington base on 4 November 2012 with the abolition of the Rushington only service.[24][25]
  • Bluestar 8: Southampton - Totton - Marchwood - Applemore - Hythe - Hardley - Holbury - Blackfield - Fawley - Calshot. The service runs every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes and hourly Sunday daytime.[26]
  • Bluestar 9: Southampton - Applemore - Dibden Purlieu - Hythe - Langley. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime and every hour during Sunday daytime.[27]
  • Bluestar 11: Southampton - Totton - West Totton. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime only.[25][28]
  • Bluestar 12: Southampton - Totton - Calmore. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime and every hour during Sunday.[29]
  • Bluestar 16: Southampton - Portswood - Midanbury - Townhill Park. The service runs every 20 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime and every 30 minutes during Sunday daytime.[30]
  • Bluestar 18: Thornhill - Bitterne - Southampton - Shirley - Millbrook. The service runs every 7 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime, every 20 minutes during Sunday daytime and every 30 minutes during weekly evenings..[31]

In addition to these routes, there are several other local routes that use the Bluestar brand. These are:

  • E1: Eastleigh - Boyatt Wood - Allbrook - Brambridge - Colden Common - Twyford - St Cross - Winchester. Operates hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime only.[32]
  • E2: Eastleigh - Boyatt Wood - Allbrook - Otterbourne - Compton - St Cross - Winchester. Operates hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime only.[32]
  • T1: Circular route around Totton, West Totton and Calmore. Operates a 2 hourly service during Monday to Friday daytime only.
  • T2: Circular route around Totton, Eling, Hounsdown and Rushington. Operates a 2 hourly service during Monday to Friday daytime only.
  • T3 and T4: Circular route around Totton, Netley Marsh, Woodlands, Bartley, Cadnam, Tatchbury, Calmore and West Totton with the T3 running clockwise and the T4 anti-clockwise. A two hourly Monday to Friday daytime service only.


File:Nightstar Logo.PNG

The Nightstar services run on Friday and Saturday nights and are aimed at people who have a night out in Southampton. All services begin at Leisure World, Southampton and make their way past other large clubs before completing its route. These routes generally follow those of their daytime number counterparts with additional stops to take into account destinations served by other routes. These are:

  • N1: Southampton - Bassett - Chandlers Ford - Otterbourne - Winchester - Badger Farm. The service is drop off only from Fryern Hill and follows the route of the Bluestar 1.[33]
  • N2: Southampton - Portswood - Eastleigh - Bishopstoke - Fair Oak. The service is drop off only from Eastleigh Bus Station and follows the route of the Bluestar 2[34]
  • N9: Southampton - Rushington - Applemore - Dibden Purlieu - Hythe - Blackfield - Fawley. This service is drop off from Pooksgreen and doesn't stop between Millbrook and Rushington, due to these areas being served by the N12 which uses the same route to Totton.[35]
  • N12: Southampton - Millbrook - Redbridge - Totton - Calmore - West Totton. This service follows the route of the Bluestar 12, however also routes to West Totton usually served by the Bluestar 10 and 11.[36]
  • N18: Southampton - Bitterne - Thornhill - Sholing Butts Road. The service follows the rough route of the eastern end of the Bluestar 18.[37]
  • N19: Southampton - Shirley - Millbrook - Lord's Hill. Follows the rough route of the western end of the Bluestar 18 and also serves Lords Hill, usually served by the Bluestar 4.[38]


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The City-link shuttle service runs a free service around the city of Southampton, stopping at Southampton Central railway station, WestQuay Shopping Centre and Town Quay, for the Hythe Ferry and the Red Funnel ferries to the Isle of Wight.[39] The service was started under the previous operator, Enterprise, but the operation was taken over by Bluestar on 28 September 2008. The two buses used on the service were inherited from Enterprise, and were repainted in a new two-tone blue livery with the interiors rebranded.


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Main article: Uni-link

The Uni-link service is provided by Bluestar, on behalf of the University of Southampton. The company commenced operating the ten year contract in September 2008. The fleet consists of 18 Scania OmniCity buses, of which 9 are double decker and the other 9 single decker delivered in 2008/09.

The Uni-link services are:

  • U1, running between Dockgate 4, for the National Oceanography Centre, the City centre, Portswood, the University of Southampton's Highfield Campus and Southampton Airport. The U1A service runs in the direction of the airport while the U1C runs towards the city. In addition, some services classed as the U1E carry on to Eastleigh Bus Station as a final stop. A night service exists, classed as the U1N, but goes a different route to avoid residential areas.
  • U2, running between the city centre, Portswood, the University of Southampton's Avenue Campus, Highfield campus and Bassett Green, for the University of Southampton's halls of residences. The U2B service heads towards Bassett Green, while the U2C runs towards the city.
  • U6, running between Dock Gate 4, the city centre, the Royal South Hants Hospital, Highfield campus and Southampton General Hospital. The U6H heads towards the Hospital, while the U6C heads towards the city.
  • U9, running between Townhill Park, Highfield campus, Richard Taunton Sixth Form College and Southampton General Hospital.

New Forest TourEdit

Main article: New Forest Tour
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The New Forest Tour is a circular open-top bus service running around the New Forest, between Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, Lymington, Beaulieu and Exbury.[40][41]

It commenced in 2004, using distinctively branded yellow and orange Bristol VRs (in the same livery as the old Southern Vectis open-top services). The service was reversed in 2005, to run in the opposite direction. For the 2006 season, two low-floor East Lancs Myllennium bodied Volvo B7TLs from Wilts & Dorset were used, retaining the Wilts & Dorset livery but with "New Forest Tour" vinyls added. In 2007 the buses passed to Solent Blue Line and were repainted in a new green and orange livery, with ponies on the side. Again, this is similar to the Southern Vectis livery which that company uses on their open-top buses.

Past bus servicesEdit


Of the Bluestar branded services, some services have subsequently been dropped. These are:

  • Bluestar 10: Southampton - Totton - West Totton - Woodlands - Cadnam. The service ran to Cadnam every two hours during Monday to Saturday daytime and every hour during Monday to Saturday daytime to West Totton. The service was removed on 4 November 2012 with the areas served by the T3 and T4.[42]
  • Bluestar 14: Southampton - Portswood - Glen Eyre Halls - Bitterne. The service ran hourly during Monday to Friday daytime only. The service was replaced in part by the local P1 service between Southampton, Portswood and Glen Eyre halls on 23 October 2011, following the withdrawal of council funding for route 14 on this date.[43]
  • Bluestar 15: Bitterne - Thronhill - Weston. The service ran hourly during Monday to Friday daytime only. The service was withdrawn following council funding being cut from the service on 6 February 2010.[44]
  • H1 and H2: A circular service between Hythe, Dibden Purlieu and Buttsash with the H1 completing an anticlockwise circuit and the H2 a clockwise circuit on the same route. Operated a 2 hourly service during Monday to Friday daytime only. The service was run by another operator from 4 November 2012.[45]
  • H3: Hythe - Hardley - Holbury - Blackfield - Fawley - Calshot. Operated two services an hour during Monday to Friday daytime only. The service was run by another operator from 4 November 2012.[46]
  • P1: Southampton - Portswood - Glen Eyre Halls. Operates hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime only.[47]

Until 4 November 2012, the Bluestar 8 service terminated at Hythe, the Bluestar 9 service split with twin services to Langley and Calshot, and the Bluestar 11 previously ran to Cadnam. This was revised as part of these changes to the current routes.

Baby BluestarEdit

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Between 2008 and c. 2010, Bluestar used Baby Bluestar branding for their local services. There have been twelve Baby Bluestar services, of which the E1, E2, H1, H2, H3, P1, T1 and T2 all still run, albeit under the Bluestar name. Five of the other services have since been dropped; they are:

  • C1/C2, running between Eastleigh, Velmore, Chandler's Ford, Fryern Hill and Hiltingbury. The service was withdrawn on 21 February 2009, but the route was continued under the ownership of Velvet.
  • S1, running between Shirley and Lord's Hill, but was withdrawn on 10 April as a result of council cuts to the funding of the service.
  • E3, running between Eastleigh, Boyatt Wood, Allbrook, Otterbourne, Compton, the Sainsburys store at Badger Farm, County Hospital and Winchester. Following the withdrawal of funding from Hampshire County Council, the service was suspended on 23 October 2011. The service followed the route of the former Solent Blue Line Route 49
  • F, Eastleigh - Fair Oak - Bishop's Waltham - Waltham Chase. This irregular service was withdrawn on 23 October 2011 due to a withdrawal of Hampshire County Council funding.

Red RocketEdit

File:Red Rocket logo.png
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Red Rocket was launched on 3 September 2006 as a high frequency network centred on Eastleigh, extending to Winchester in the north and Hamble-le-Rice in the south. Red Rocket services were either withdrawn or re-branded to Baby Bluestar on 24 February 2008, to enable Solent Blue Line to trade under the Bluestar name.[48][49]

There were originally eight Red Rocket routes, lettered to avoid confusion with the Bluestar and Solent Blue Line service in operation at the time. These were:

  • Red Rocket A ran between Eastleigh, Hedge End and Hamble. The service was withdrawn by Solent Blue Line on 23 February 2008, following the withdrawal of the Red Rocket brand,[49] with the bus service being adopted and run by the rival operator Velvet around Eastleigh and by First Hampshire & Dorset around Hamble.
  • Red Rocket B ran between Eastleigh and Boyatt Wood and ceased on 23 February 2008 along with the Red Rocket network.[49]
  • Red Rocket C ran between Eastleigh, the Velmore Estate, Chandler's Ford, Fryern Hill and Hiltingbury. Following the cessation of Red Rocket, the route became Baby Bluestar C1 on 24 February 2008, however did not serve Hiltingbury.[49]
  • Red Rocket D ran between Eastleigh, Valley Park and Hiltingbury and ceased on 23 February 2008 along with the rest of the Red Rocket network.[49] Solent Blue Line cited the fact that the route would still be served by other pre-existing services including Wilts and Dorset service 65.[49]
  • Red Rocket E1, E2 and E3 all survived the cessation of Red Rocket. The three services all became Baby Bluestar services on 24 February 2008,[49] with the E1 and E2 subsequently becoming full Bluestar services in c.2010, while the E3 was dropped in 2011.
  • Red Rocket F ran between Eastleigh, Stoke Common, Fair Oak, Bishop's Waltham, Swanmore and Waltham Chase and became Baby Bluestar Route F on 24 February 2008.

Solent ShuttleEdit

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The Solent Shuttle was an express bus link that ran between Portsmouth and Southampton. The service itself was established in 1976 as a joint venture between Hants & Dorset and Southdown Motor Services, between passing on to other operators including Southampton City Bus, First Hampshire & Dorset and Tellings-Golden Miller; First branded the services as the 727 and the 747 while Tellings-Golden Miller branded it the Solent Clipper, under the service names the X27 and the X47.

Solent Blue Line took over the service, but ran into difficulties following the cessation of funding from Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils. The service was due to close on the 2 June 2007, but by popular demand and with the support of pensioners associations in both cities, the service continued on a two-hourly basis.[50] However, the service was ceased two years later on 21 February 2009.

Beep BusEdit

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The Beep! Bus service operated between Eastleigh, Boyatt Wood, Velmore and Southampton between the 8 October 2008 and February 2009. The service operated in direct competition with the rival Velvet B service operating on the same route and timetabled three minutes behind those of the Beep bus.[51] Initially the service was registered with VOSA as a Wilts & Dorset route to begin on 15 September 2008, but this was later cancelled and replaced with an identical Bluestar registration.[52] The service began a full week before its registration date to match the start date of Velvet's service, but was unable to take fares and so operated as a free service until their start date a week later. Normal fares were slightly lower than Velvet's on some journeys but local journeys were more expensive.[51] Bluestar operations director Andrew Wickham said that the decision was "a business decision pure and simple", adding that they "are not scared of competition" but Velvet were "deliberately creaming off" some of their passengers.[51] The rival Velvet service ended on 10 January 2009 because of low passenger numbers.[53] Soon after, Bluestar announced their intention to withdraw Beep! Bus from February 2009, ironically one year after they withdrew the Red Rocket B service.

Do the DocksEdit

File:Docks Tour logo.png

The 'Do the Docks' tour was an open-top bus tour of Southampton docks, using open-top buses from the New Forest Tour and a debranded Wilts & Dorset Leyland Olympian. The service changed on 29 July 2007 as a result of low passenger numbers following poor weather during the 2007 summer season, with the service losing its "turn up and hop on" format and becoming a chartered service.[54] The route saw a brief reprieve in April 2008, when the service ran for two days on 26 and 27 of that month, as part of the Caribbean festival in Southampton. As Solent Blue Line no longer had the open-top buses for the routes, a hired Southern Vectis open-top bus was used.[55]


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Bluestar utilizes a mix of single and double deck buses for their routes. These are:

  • Eight Enviro400 double decker buses, seven of which were new to Bluestar in September 2013 and one, which was originally fitted out for service on Wilts and Dorset routes, but became a Bluestar bus in October 2006. Used on the Bluestar 3 route.
  • Seven Scania OmniCity double decker buses, introduced in 2008 and 2009 for use on the Bluestar 1 route.[56]
  • Seven East Lancs Lolyne double decker buses, built in 1998 and used on the Bluestar 4 route.
  • Seven East Lancs Myllennium Vyking double decker buses, built in 2001 and used on the Bluestar 2, Bluestar 6, Bluestar 8 and the New Forest Tour.
  • Several Leyland Olympian/Volvo Olympian double decker buses, in both Northern Counties Palatine 1 and East Lancs E Type bodywork, used on various routes including Bluestar 10.
  • Several Optare Solo single decker buses, transferred from Wilts and Dorset and used mostly on Bluestar routes E1 and E2 however can be found doing other routes, notably Bluestar 11 and 12, during the daytime. The buses retain the red and grey Wilts and Dorset interior.
  • Several DAF SB120 single decker buses with Wright Cadet bodywork, found primarily on the Bluestar 12 and 18 routes.
  • Approximately twenty Mercedes-Benz Citaro single decker buses that operate on Bluestar routes 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 18. Ten of these buses were new to Bluestar in 2006; a further seven buses were previously from Southern Vectis, built in 2007 and went into service retaining their green interiors; the final buses were previously from Wilts and Dorset and were used on route 18 with specific route 18 livery and retaining the cream, navy blue, red and grey interior design from Wilts and Dorset.
  • Several Dennis Dart single decker buses with Plaxton Pointer bodywork used almost exclusively on the Bluestar 11, 12 T1, T2, T3 and T4 services.
  • Several Wright Eclipse Urban single decker buses found on Bluestar route 16.
  • A few Dennis Dart single decker buses in East Lancs Myllennium bodywork that operate the Citylink shuttle service.

Incidents and investigationEdit

In March 2007 whilst being used as a rail-replacement bus a double-decker member of the Red Rocket fleet drove under a low bridge at Barnham causing the top to be ripped off, in addition to minor damage to the bridge.[57] It is now with Southern Vectis as an open-topper.

In July 2009, the MP for Eastleigh Chris Huhne asked for an investigation into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour of Bluestar against Velvet's over their implementation and subsequent removal of extra services, which operated between Eastleigh and Fair Oak, to rival Velvet's service, the Fair Oak Flyer.[58]

In the early hours of 22 March 2011, there was an incident between a car and a Bluestar bus on route 2 between Southampton, Eastleigh and Fair Oak, resulting in a single fatality of the car driver, and the passenger last known to be in a critical condition. Only one passenger of the 10 on-board were treated for minor injuries.[59][60]

At around 16:30 on 7 February 2012, a Marchwood Motorways Mercedes-Benz Citaro caught fire on Calmore Roundabout, Totton. The bus was being driven Not In Service by a mechanic at the time - there were no injuries but the bus was destroyed.[61]

See alsoEdit

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  1. Companies House extract company no 2103030 Solent Blue Line Limited formerly Musterphantom Limited
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  3. Companies House extract company no 3203900 Hants & Sussex Omnibus Limited
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  9. Recommended Cash for Southern Vectis plc Go-Ahead Group 11 July 2005
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  11. Companies House extract company no 2201331 Marchwood Motorways (Services) Limited
  12. Companies House extract company no 1622531 Marchwood Motorways (Southampton) Limited
  13. Acquisition of Marchwood Buses Go-Ahead Group 24 March 2006
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External linksEdit

Template:Go-Ahead Bus Companies Template:Bus companies in South East England

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