Bus wars return to the city as rivals run same routes as 'bust' Hampshire firm carries on

ROUTE RIVALS: A Velvet S1 bus pulls out of Lordshill Centre bus stop followed immediately by a Blue star S1 route bus yesterday.

ROUTE RIVALS: A Velvet S1 bus pulls out of Lordshill Centre bus stop followed immediately by a Blue star S1 route bus yesterday.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health Reporter

NEW bus wars have broken out after confusion surrounding the future of a Hampshire bus company that went bust.

Velvet and Bluestar are currently both operating the same routes in Southampton after the former announced it was back on the road thanks to a new owner just 36 hours after going into administration.

Now the rival companies face a wait to see who will be awarded sole responsibility for the route as the city council and Traffic Commissioners investigate.

It is the latest conflict in a long-running saga between Velvet and Bluestar.

They previously clashed in 2008 and 2009 when they battled for routes and passengers across the Eastleigh borough.

Claims emerged of passenger poaching and timing buses to arrive on identical routes minutes before the rival firm was due to stop.

The dispute went all the way to Parliament when then Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne submitted a dossier of evidence over the alleged tactics to the Office of Fair Trading.

Velvet – trading as Black Velvet Travel – went into administration on Wednesday and its routes, including Southampton, Eastleigh and Hedge End, were picked up by Bluestar, Xelabus and Wheelers, as revealed by the Daily Echo.

But the distinctive purple buses are now back on the roads thanks to an “interim agreement” with a “significant independent company”

which is in talks to take over the company. Administrator Chantrey Vellacott is refusing to name the new owners or reveal the status of Velvet’s debts, claiming the information could jeopardise the buyout process.

Matthew Fox, of Chantrey Vellacott, said: “We are in regular dialogue with all parties concerned around the talks and will provide a further update when it is possible to do so.”

Velvet managing director Phil Stockley has been unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts by the Daily Echo to contact him.

Meanwhile the city council, which is responsible for hiring bus companies to provide routes in Southampton, said it would not be able to comment until Monday.

Bluestar also refused to comment on the situation other than to confirm they will continue to operate the S1 (Lordshill to Shirley/city centre), S2 (city centre to Freemantle/Shirley) and B4 (Bursledon, Sholing, Thornhill and Harefield to Bitterne) routes despite the return of Velvet.

It is unknown whether Velvet will also resume the 502 service from Springhill School to the city centre and Northam that Bluestar also picked up.

But both Wheelers and Xelabus confirmed they would not be competing with Velvet for any routes.

Philip Blair, managing director at Xelabus, said he had been told by Mr Stockley that Velvet had no plans to resume the X4 Hedge End and X7 Chandler’s Ford routes it took over on Thursday.

Steve Barnett, general manager of Wheelers, which briefly took over Velvet’s A route, said they had sent buses out early on, but withdrew them once they realised Velvet were operating.

Comments (13)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:33am Sat 19 Jul 14

Micle1974 says...

Any plans to take over the velvet night bus routes?
Any plans to take over the velvet night bus routes? Micle1974
  • Score: 2

10:10am Sat 19 Jul 14

focus19 says...

None story AGAIN ..... Bluestar operated the route under emergency contract for the council , Bluestar could only stop running the route until authorised by the city council hence the two companies running side by side , so NO BUS WARS just the ECHO BAD REPORTING again. , Shame We don't have another local paper that can report the truth !
None story AGAIN ..... Bluestar operated the route under emergency contract for the council , Bluestar could only stop running the route until authorised by the city council hence the two companies running side by side , so NO BUS WARS just the ECHO BAD REPORTING again. , Shame We don't have another local paper that can report the truth ! focus19
  • Score: 16

10:12am Sat 19 Jul 14

Lone Ranger. says...

It appears to me that the only ones confused are the ECHO ..... !!
It appears to me that the only ones confused are the ECHO ..... !! Lone Ranger.
  • Score: 15

11:15am Sat 19 Jul 14

bogart259 says...

Waste of time publishing the story today. Bluestar stated yesterday that they are stopped running S1, S2, 502 and B4 from yesterday afternoon.
Waste of time publishing the story today. Bluestar stated yesterday that they are stopped running S1, S2, 502 and B4 from yesterday afternoon. bogart259
  • Score: 6

11:38am Sat 19 Jul 14

wh1sp3r says...

Perhaps the reporter should check out the facts regarding the Operating Licence being used at this time - As the Licence should have been surrendered to the Traffic Commissioner following administration.
Perhaps the reporter should check out the facts regarding the Operating Licence being used at this time - As the Licence should have been surrendered to the Traffic Commissioner following administration. wh1sp3r
  • Score: 6

12:04pm Sat 19 Jul 14

legod7 says...

From Bluestar website
Routes, S1, S2, B4 and 502

published: 18 July 2014

End of operation

We today have been informed by Southampton City Council that we are no longer required to operate bus routes S1, S2, B4 and school service 502 under emergency contract. We will therefore be ending services after the final journey today Friday 18th July.



We have been very happy to be able to assist the council and ensure customers had a service in place during this difficult period following the financial collapse of the previous provider.



These services will be once again be operated by the previous provider
From Bluestar website Routes, S1, S2, B4 and 502 published: 18 July 2014 End of operation We today have been informed by Southampton City Council that we are no longer required to operate bus routes S1, S2, B4 and school service 502 under emergency contract. We will therefore be ending services after the final journey today Friday 18th July. We have been very happy to be able to assist the council and ensure customers had a service in place during this difficult period following the financial collapse of the previous provider. These services will be once again be operated by the previous provider legod7
  • Score: 3

7:17pm Sat 19 Jul 14

solomum says...

I used a velvet bus today for the first time. The driver was lovely. The route though was a real mish mash. From Lordswood to the CIty Centre took an age as we went all around the houses, up Shirley High Street instead of down it, then turned around and went back on ourselves. I began to think I was on a day out on the bus. We eventually arrived in Southampton. I was so confused as to where we were going. The route definitely needs revising.
I used a velvet bus today for the first time. The driver was lovely. The route though was a real mish mash. From Lordswood to the CIty Centre took an age as we went all around the houses, up Shirley High Street instead of down it, then turned around and went back on ourselves. I began to think I was on a day out on the bus. We eventually arrived in Southampton. I was so confused as to where we were going. The route definitely needs revising. solomum
  • Score: -3

10:19pm Sat 19 Jul 14

Cramble says...

solomum wrote:
I used a velvet bus today for the first time. The driver was lovely. The route though was a real mish mash. From Lordswood to the CIty Centre took an age as we went all around the houses, up Shirley High Street instead of down it, then turned around and went back on ourselves. I began to think I was on a day out on the bus. We eventually arrived in Southampton. I was so confused as to where we were going. The route definitely needs revising.
This route is designed to get people onto the main Bus corridors Shirley High Street etc a hop on hop off type service. Not direct to the city or Lordshill.
It is aimed at people who are not on main routes who need mobility to get them out and about. Same with some of the Wheelers routes not direct from A to B. The best thing to do is some research before travel - or ask the driver when the bus will reach the destination.
This site is also useful.
http://traveline.inf
o/
[quote][p][bold]solomum[/bold] wrote: I used a velvet bus today for the first time. The driver was lovely. The route though was a real mish mash. From Lordswood to the CIty Centre took an age as we went all around the houses, up Shirley High Street instead of down it, then turned around and went back on ourselves. I began to think I was on a day out on the bus. We eventually arrived in Southampton. I was so confused as to where we were going. The route definitely needs revising.[/p][/quote]This route is designed to get people onto the main Bus corridors Shirley High Street etc a hop on hop off type service. Not direct to the city or Lordshill. It is aimed at people who are not on main routes who need mobility to get them out and about. Same with some of the Wheelers routes not direct from A to B. The best thing to do is some research before travel - or ask the driver when the bus will reach the destination. This site is also useful. http://traveline.inf o/ Cramble
  • Score: 3

10:58pm Sat 19 Jul 14

emerald82 says...

oldage wrote:
Velvet can only last so long ,Sometimes they do not even cover routes due to staff shortages ,And the likes Of M Field should not even be employed by them ,Rude drivers just like Wheelers
Velvet drivers are all friendly actually.
Bit nasty to name and shame a specific member of staff. If you have beef make it personal. Not through the security of the keyboard.
[quote][p][bold]oldage[/bold] wrote: Velvet can only last so long ,Sometimes they do not even cover routes due to staff shortages ,And the likes Of M Field should not even be employed by them ,Rude drivers just like Wheelers[/p][/quote]Velvet drivers are all friendly actually. Bit nasty to name and shame a specific member of staff. If you have beef make it personal. Not through the security of the keyboard. emerald82
  • Score: 10

8:30am Sun 20 Jul 14

Muppet Destroyer says...

emerald82 wrote:
oldage wrote:
Velvet can only last so long ,Sometimes they do not even cover routes due to staff shortages ,And the likes Of M Field should not even be employed by them ,Rude drivers just like Wheelers
Velvet drivers are all friendly actually.
Bit nasty to name and shame a specific member of staff. If you have beef make it personal. Not through the security of the keyboard.
Well said emerald82 it's about time the Echo stopped posts naming one driver. Velvet have a certain ex bluestar & beep bus driver that works there that even drives past passengers at bus stops & has an attitude that stinks & glares at everyone that gets on his bus that makes them feel like they should not stop his bus but unlike oldage i wont name this driver on here but i expect most members of staff at velvet know who i mean as he lets the rest of them down very badly & no its not the person oldage mentioned that driver is always polite when i get on his bus.
[quote][p][bold]emerald82[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]oldage[/bold] wrote: Velvet can only last so long ,Sometimes they do not even cover routes due to staff shortages ,And the likes Of M Field should not even be employed by them ,Rude drivers just like Wheelers[/p][/quote]Velvet drivers are all friendly actually. Bit nasty to name and shame a specific member of staff. If you have beef make it personal. Not through the security of the keyboard.[/p][/quote]Well said emerald82 it's about time the Echo stopped posts naming one driver. Velvet have a certain ex bluestar & beep bus driver that works there that even drives past passengers at bus stops & has an attitude that stinks & glares at everyone that gets on his bus that makes them feel like they should not stop his bus but unlike oldage i wont name this driver on here but i expect most members of staff at velvet know who i mean as he lets the rest of them down very badly & no its not the person oldage mentioned that driver is always polite when i get on his bus. Muppet Destroyer
  • Score: 5

10:13am Sun 20 Jul 14

oooarrr says...

The echo will never let facts stand in the way of a story
The echo will never let facts stand in the way of a story oooarrr
  • Score: 1

5:11pm Tue 22 Jul 14

colgate84 says...

Well said emerald82 and Muppet Destroyer. I have not been on a Velvet bus so I would not know the routes. But I work for Wheelers, I must say that oldage is so wrong. Have you been on any of our buses as in Wheelers or Velvet? Or are you just a sad old loner that looks for faults in every company? M Field is such a nice chap and the guy you must not of met or you are that sad loser, is right what the Muppet Destroyer said about him. Yes some of us are miserable and rude but that is most probably because YOU MAKE US THAT WAY. So get the guts and start leaving your name or do itr face to face
Well said emerald82 and Muppet Destroyer. I have not been on a Velvet bus so I would not know the routes. But I work for Wheelers, I must say that oldage is so wrong. Have you been on any of our buses as in Wheelers or Velvet? Or are you just a sad old loner that looks for faults in every company? M Field is such a nice chap and the guy you must not of met or you are that sad loser, is right what the Muppet Destroyer said about him. Yes some of us are miserable and rude but that is most probably because YOU MAKE US THAT WAY. So get the guts and start leaving your name or do itr face to face colgate84
  • Score: 0

5:12pm Tue 22 Jul 14

colgate84 says...

Well said emerald82 and Muppet Destroyer. I have not been on a Velvet bus so I would not know the routes. But I work for Wheelers, I must say that oldage is so wrong. Have you been on any of our buses as in Wheelers or Velvet? Or are you just a sad old loner that looks for faults in every company? M Field is such a nice chap and the guy you must not of met or you are that sad loser, is right what the Muppet Destroyer said about him. Yes some of us are miserable and rude but that is most probably because YOU MAKE US THAT WAY. So get the guts and start leaving your name or do it face to face to the drivers not sat behind a screen.
Well said emerald82 and Muppet Destroyer. I have not been on a Velvet bus so I would not know the routes. But I work for Wheelers, I must say that oldage is so wrong. Have you been on any of our buses as in Wheelers or Velvet? Or are you just a sad old loner that looks for faults in every company? M Field is such a nice chap and the guy you must not of met or you are that sad loser, is right what the Muppet Destroyer said about him. Yes some of us are miserable and rude but that is most probably because YOU MAKE US THAT WAY. So get the guts and start leaving your name or do it face to face to the drivers not sat behind a screen. colgate84
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree