Thursday, 1 November 2012

Phil's Final (?) Fling

Hedge End to Southampton Coming Soon, Velvet Smooth
We are sorry to inform all our route C customers that we will no longer operate this route during Monday to Saturday daytimes from 25th November. Until autumn 2011 the daytime service received around £150,000 per annum subsidy from the local authorities but this was lost as a result of budget cuts forced upon the Councils. For the last year we have attempted to operate this service without any subsidy, but for a number of reasons this hasn't worked out.
As a small family company if our revenue doesn't cover our costs we would simply go out of business and that can't be good for anyone, and this has led us to this difficult decision.

But, coincidentally (?), Velvet have also announced a brand new service from Hedge End to Southampton. It will be "numbered" (lettered?) "A" and will operate as a revision of the current route A which will no longer serve Botley. Bluestar 3 remains as Botley's route to Southampton.

This is not the first time that Velvet have attempted to spread their wings from running Eastleigh local routes. One attempt to run between Eastleigh and Southampton was very quickly "seen off" by Bluestar's Beep Bus.
Both competing options were later withdrawn. So this time it is into the Hedge End market that Phil Stockley (Velvet MD) bravely leaps. His on-line efforts are clearly competitive ...
... but provoked, in part, by the diversion of the former "direct" route of Bluestar 3 to run via Peartree and Woolston.
Also in the mix is First's 8/8A, again a slower and less direct option.
As is usual, Velvet's publicity is very professional, offering, for example, connections with trains to and from London at Parkway Station.
A nice touch.

One interesting anomaly remains to taunt the potential user. In recent times Velvet has not run a Sunday service between Eastleigh and Hedge End; this privilege having gone to First on a Hampshire tender.
Meanwhile Velvet will be running their new "A" between Hedge End and Southampton only. This timetable extract shows the hourly timings (from Hedge End at XX22) which connect with First's A only occasionally due to the lack of "repeat pattern" of the latter.
fbb wishes his former colleague Phil well with this enterprise; but ...

There isn't much chance of Bluestar leaving him alone unless there is an unofficial (and illegal) "done deal" lurking in the depths of an Eastleigh pub's dark corners. Time will tell!

Fat Bus Bloke's Bible Blog looks back at Halloween (read here).

 Next Bus Blog : Friday 2nd November 

1 comment:

  1. I wish Velvet well with this and share the disappointment that Eastleigh local services are so difficult to make commercial. Many years ago I worked in the schedules office of Hants & Dorset and every new member of staff seemed to be given the job of trying to make the local Eastleigh services work - preferably with fewer buses!
    My concern - as now an occasional visitor is just where in Eastleigh can you get printed timetable information? I used to be able to get it from the Library/TIC or the bus station cafe. Four weeks ago the Library only had two leaflets and indicated they couldn't get more as the bus companies now want you to go on the web. The bus station cafe had nothing. Thankfully Velvet and Brijan drivers were able to assist with up to date copies of theirs.
    The electronic information display which was surrounded by passengers was not a suitable alternative for me. Did I miss somewhere else I could have gone? Is this why services are not used as well as they might be? Where will Xela put information for their replacement service?

    Incidentally the re-sited Southampton TIC (in the basement of the library) had the previous Velvet timetables on display!