Monday, 8 September 2014

First roadshow / Xelabus X4 rerouted / Gardbus 139 to run on Saturdays


First have held a few public 'Meet The Manager' sessions recently and another is to follow this coming Saturday 13th September at the Bargate between 0900 and 1600. Full details here.

Xelabus X4 was due to be rerouted from 17th September but it looks like that has been brought forward to today. The change is in Hedge End: Wildern Lane is no longer served with all X4 buses in both directions running via Turnpike Way and Upper Northam Road. No mention of this on Xelabus's website, but the new route and timetable are on Traveline. To confuse things even more, First A on Sundays is sticking to its existing route via Wildern Lane. Here's a helpful map of how Xelabus X4 now runs in Hedge End:

I've edited this map, the original of which is from www.travelinesw.com

Thanks to PAC for leaving a comment to draw my attention to that one and also to the fact that Gardbus 139 will start running on Saturdays from 11th October. It currently runs on Sundays only and provides the only bus link between Southampton and Ringwood, plus an alternative to Salisbury Reds X7 for visitors to Paulton's Park. Here's the new timetable, which applies from Sunday 5th October:

www.travelinesw.com again

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Guilty but free - thanks to purple 'Get out of jail free' card

Adam Smith, also known as Paul Jones, would be in jail today were it not for the fact that he owns Velvet buses.

Adam Smith/Paul Jones's picture taken from Buses Excetera's website

As the Daily Echo reports, he first denied but later pleaded guilty to handling counterfeit banknotes.

A 16-month jail sentence was suspended for 2 years because people's jobs at Velvet depended on him and because Velvet owes £140,000 in tax, which it would be unlikely to be able to pay back had Smith/Jones been jailed. He will have to do 150 hours community service and pay £700 of genuine money in costs and surcharges.


Smith/Jones claimed that Velvet was in good hands, but admitted that he had been "stupid".

Velvet ceased trading on 16th July under the ownership of its founder, Phil Stockley, and would have entered receivership had Smith/Jones not bought it just days later, enabling its buses to resume operation.

Friday, 29 August 2014

New Xelabus route from Monday... or is it?

Xelabus have registered a new route, the X5, to run from Monday. A look at their website for more details gives you just this message:


No timetable or even details of the route other than that it serves "Chandlers Ford Business Park".

Luckily, Traveline has more information. So if the route is launching on Monday, we should assume that it will look like this:


It links Southampton Airport Parkway railway station with Chandlers Ford railway station via part of Chestnut Avenue and some business parks. It'll provide some useful new links for people connecting at Parkway with the X4 to Hedge End, Unilink U1 into Southampton or even with the trains.

Here is a list of all stops that will be served:



...and here is the timetable:



Hopefully it will indeed launch on Monday and Xelabus will remember to put details of it on their website.

Here's a summary of all changes happening in the next couple of days. It looks like Wheelers WA is not now going to launch, due to the Velvet revival, but one early morning journey on the W1 will start from Hedge End:

31st August:
Stagecoach 69, Unilink U1, U2, U6, U9: Timetable changes.

1st September:
Wheelers W1, More X1/X2, Bluestar 5: Route & timetable change.
Xelabus X5: New route launches between Airport Parkway Station and Chandlers Ford.

2nd September:
More 112: Summer route & timetable ends, normal service resumes.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

First 12 rerouted / Unilink U2 frequency boost / Wheelers W2 withdrawn

First 12 will be rerouted from Sunday 17th August to serve Kingsway instead of the New Road/Palmerston Road junction.


All Unilink routes get new timetables from 31st August. The U2 is rerouted in the city centre to now serve the new Mayflower Halls instead of the Civic Centre and is doubled in frequency to every 10 minutes on weekdays during university terms between the City Centre and the University Interchange. Details here.


Stagecoach 69 and some of their other Winchester routes have timetable changes on 31st August. Details here.

Wheelers launched their WA briefly before Velvet's relaunch, but it launches properly from 1st September providing a direct alternative to the new Velvet's A. We'll let you know once the WA's timetable has been released.

Staying with Wheelers, the W2 is to be withdrawn after 27th September. It has run since last November and provides a direct link from Southampton City Centre to Hill Lane, Valley Park and Hiltingbury. Most direct journeys that can be done on the W2 will require two buses after it stops running.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Velvet buyer revealed

The Echo has confirmed that the buyer of Velvet is Adam Smith. Who, you may ask? The Echo doesn't say. Some might be left thinking that the 18th Century economist and philosopher has posthumously saved Velvet.

But no, the Adam Smith in question is indeed the man behind Buses Excetera of Surrey.


On this page of their website is some information about the man himself:


The yellow highlights are mine. One hopes that the standard of English used on the Buses Excetera website is not a sign of things to come at Velvet.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Changes this weekend / Stockley statement

We have a few changes happening this weekend, so here's a summary of them all:


More 112 becomes useful from Saturday. For the summer holidays only, rebranded The Beach Bus, it will be running hourly every daytime and is rerouted to serve Lepe Beach, Exbury Gardens and Beaulieu's National Motor Museum. Bluestar Explorers at £8.50 are valid if you want to connect with route 6 at Lymington or routes 8 and 9 in Hythe, or there is a day ticket valid only on the 112 at £6, which you can also use on the iconic and historic Hythe Ferry to really make the most of your day out.


From Sunday, First 4/4A/X4 towards Locks Heath, Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth become the X4 and X5 with simplified routes and more buses to Fareham. See the new timetables here.


From Monday, Paultons Park gets easier to visit with more journeys on Salisbury Reds X7 running right to the park's entrance. See the new timetable here. Don't forget that if you want to visit Paultons on a Sunday, then you need to use Gardbus 139.


Phil Stockley, formerly of Velvet, has given his informative take on last week's events in a comment to this blog's most recent post. You can read it here. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for his regular contributions to this blog's comments and to wish him, Velvet's remaining staff and the company's new owners all the very best for the future.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bluestar hands M back to Velvet

Bluestar have advised that they are no longer running the M, which they had taken on after Velvet collapsed last week.


Now Velvet are running again, Marwell Zoo have said they want to keep the contract with Velvet.


While this is good for Velvet and their new owners, whoever they may be, passengers lose out. With Bluestar running the M, you could use a Southampton Plus Dayrider at £5.60 to get from the city to the zoo. Now Velvet are back on the route, the Bluestar ticket isn't valid on the M and it now costs £8 for a Solent Travelcard to make the same journey.

Hats off to Bluestar for the professional yet jovial tone of their notice to passengers.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Velvet revolution: Buses back on the road thanks to mystery buyer

Velvet has been bought out of receivership and its buses are back on the road. It's not yet been confirmed who the new owners are.


The company have confirmed that they are running routes A, B4, S1 and S2 today.

Their other routes will remain with the new operators, Xelabus and Bluestar.

Comments on Velvet's Facebook page suggest that the replacement operators have not been made aware that Velvet are back on routes S1 and S2, which are seeing a Velvet bus in convoy with a Bluestar one. A similar situation has been reported in Hedge End, with Velvet and Wheelers buses running in convoy on route A.

More as we get it.