A NUMBER of new bus services will be introduced to a Hampshire town after a family-run firm decided to expand its routes.

Xelabus will start up a new service from Eastleigh to Hedge End retail centre after a bus service previously operated by Velvet buses will leave people “high and dry”.

From next Monday the X4 service will operate every half hour during the week and every hour on Saturdays for residents in Parkway, Mansbridge and West End as well as students at Barton Peveril College.

Philip Blair, managing director for Xelabus, said the firm was adding the extra services as part of an expansion plan.

He said: “There are lots of people in the Hedge End area who feel as if they have been left high and dry. We believe it’s an important service and that there’s a market to be built upon.”

On Saturday Velvet buses stopped running their ‘A’ service between Eastleigh and Hedge End, although it will continue to run between Hedge End and Southampton.

The chairman of Eastleigh Borough Council, Councillor Keith House welcomed the news.

He said: “We are always keen to see new buses in our area and we wish them every success in making a competitive service in the future and providing a great service.

Between 9.30am and 3.30pm offpeak buses will also enter Haskins car park where passengers can exchange a voucher for a beverage in the shop restaurant as part of a trial period until autumn.

The X7 service between Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford will double in frequency from hourly to every 30 minutes during the day.

They will also be extending the X3 service between Eastleigh and Asda in Chandler’s Ford to Boyatt Wood.

Mr Blair added that the 30- minute service from Chandler’s Ford will provide more capacity on a route where demand is high on parts of it.

He said: “These changes just go to show how much we learn from our customers on travel requests within the Eastleigh area.

“We are very excited about our new X4 service which will replace the Velvet A route and give customers a more reliable service to and from Hedge End.”

Velvet managing director Phil Stockley said severe congestion and dwindling passenger numbers led him to axe the route after six years.

But he congratulated Xelabus and said: “They have other ideas.

“Good luck to them and I hope they do well.”

More details of the changes can be found at xelabus.info.