Bluestar’s Solent Shuttle X27 is too costly to run, say bosses

Daily Echo: Pensioners protest as bus service is axed Pensioners protest as bus service is axed

A BUS service used by thousands of pensioners, workers and shoppers is facing the axe for the second time in 18 months.

The X27 Solent Shuttle between Southampton and Portsmouth was almost ditched in the summer of 2007 before a U-turn which reduced it to a two-hourly service.

Now the route is set to be scrapped because bus company Bluestar says it costs too much.

Operations director Andrew Wickham said the firm was losing £1,500 a week on the service and it would end on February 22.

However, Southampton Pensioners’ Forum and its sister group in Portsmouth are joining forces to fight the decision.

Forum secretary Don Harper said: “This could be a disaster for people who use the service. It is vital that we do all we can to keep this up and running. You never see this bus empty, it always has loads of passengers.”

A protest is planned for the final day of the service. Pensioners are planning to travel on the X27 from Portsmouth to Southampton and stage a demonstration with placards and signs.

Mr Wickham said the company did not want to cut the service but had no choice.

He said: “We are the fourth operator to try to make this route work.

It is just too costly and we don’t make enough revenue. We are sorry this will have an effect on all the people that use it but it is just too expensive to run.”

He said the route used to be supported by Southampton and Portsmouth local authorities but both stopped funding after Bluestar took over the contract four years ago.

He blamed the company’s heavy losses on the free bus passes for the over-60s, claiming it was not sufficiently reimbursed.

Asked what it would take for the company to keep the service going he said it would be necessary for the Government to look at the way bus operators are reimbursed for bus pass users or for the local authorities to reintroduce their subsidies.

A Southampton City Council spokesman said: “We used to jointly fund the service with Portsmouth but when it withdrew we decided we couldn’t make up the shortfall.

“Because of this Bluestar decided to cut the frequency of journeys from hourly to once every two hours and make it purely commercial.

“As the council has no further budget for subsidies at the moment it is unlikely that we would be able to provide funding, but we are constantly reviewing our subsidised services.”

The shuttle runs six return services a day on weekdays and five on Saturdays.

The Daily Echo understands that rival Black Velvet is currently looking at whether it could make a profit from the route.

Comments (13)

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9:13am Fri 9 Jan 09

Paramjit Bahia says...

Another service to be sacrificed at the alter of 'free market'.

Privatisation of public transport has been a disaster. Although while in opposition New Labour opposed it, but in power since 1997 they have refused to solve this problem, by kicking out profit oriented privateers out of this business .
Another service to be sacrificed at the alter of 'free market'. Privatisation of public transport has been a disaster. Although while in opposition New Labour opposed it, but in power since 1997 they have refused to solve this problem, by kicking out profit oriented privateers out of this business . Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

9:23am Fri 9 Jan 09

Condor Man says...

Pensioner don't pay for the bus service, perhaps this is why the service is being scrapped?
Pensioner don't pay for the bus service, perhaps this is why the service is being scrapped? Condor Man
  • Score: 0

9:50am Fri 9 Jan 09

goard says...

This is all about a battle of wits with the Council and the resentment to free bus passes- both sides have renaged and just goes to show what a shabby lot they all are. For all I know the Government are not passing money down to the Councils, but then how come the Council spent so much on professional advice on all things not brought into fruition. The most important thing is to keep the workforce and travellers moving to keep this country going, as with the same questionable train services - they are all playing a game - who knows the money that would have been spent on transport is now in the pockets of our new wage earners the quango committees. I am beginning to think it is all a matter of sleight of hand with this lot.

goard
This is all about a battle of wits with the Council and the resentment to free bus passes- both sides have renaged and just goes to show what a shabby lot they all are. For all I know the Government are not passing money down to the Councils, but then how come the Council spent so much on professional advice on all things not brought into fruition. The most important thing is to keep the workforce and travellers moving to keep this country going, as with the same questionable train services - they are all playing a game - who knows the money that would have been spent on transport is now in the pockets of our new wage earners the quango committees. I am beginning to think it is all a matter of sleight of hand with this lot. goard goard
  • Score: 0

10:24am Fri 9 Jan 09

Andy Locks Heath says...

I'd half agree with you Paramjit but there is nothing wrong with the profit incentive in transport - earning a profit requires efficiency, hard work and a lot of planning - it doesn't just happen and the idea of money just rolling in to fat cats is an unrealistic myth. But I do strongly agree with you that privatised public transport should be actively regulated by both central and local Goovernment with integrated timetabling, multi modal through ticketing and subsidy of loss making services but not on a pound for pound basis - there needs to be an incentive to make the private company work to reduce subsidy or lose the franchise. All these things the Government could have rectified and hasn't.
Isn;t it funny how all the things we want our taxes to pay for - eg education, health, transport, care for the elderly etc we can't afford, yet they take second place to things we don;t want - such as wars that others won't fight, a bail out of Icelandic incompetence, a burgeoning public sector full of non jobs, index linked pensions we can no longer justify, illegal immigration, the "human rights" of terrorists we are scared to repatriate.......
I'd half agree with you Paramjit but there is nothing wrong with the profit incentive in transport - earning a profit requires efficiency, hard work and a lot of planning - it doesn't just happen and the idea of money just rolling in to fat cats is an unrealistic myth. But I do strongly agree with you that privatised public transport should be actively regulated by both central and local Goovernment with integrated timetabling, multi modal through ticketing and subsidy of loss making services but not on a pound for pound basis - there needs to be an incentive to make the private company work to reduce subsidy or lose the franchise. All these things the Government could have rectified and hasn't. Isn;t it funny how all the things we want our taxes to pay for - eg education, health, transport, care for the elderly etc we can't afford, yet they take second place to things we don;t want - such as wars that others won't fight, a bail out of Icelandic incompetence, a burgeoning public sector full of non jobs, index linked pensions we can no longer justify, illegal immigration, the "human rights" of terrorists we are scared to repatriate....... Andy Locks Heath
  • Score: 0

11:56am Fri 9 Jan 09

Bright Spark says...

Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration.
Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration. Bright Spark
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Fri 9 Jan 09

Northamboy says...

Bright Spark wrote:
Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration.
Used by thousands but they all have free passes :-)
[quote][p][bold]Bright Spark[/bold] wrote: Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration.[/p][/quote]Used by thousands but they all have free passes :-) Northamboy
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Fri 9 Jan 09

Northamboy says...

Bright Spark wrote:
Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration.
Used by thousands but they all have free passes :-)
[quote][p][bold]Bright Spark[/bold] wrote: Used by thousands? Surely this is a slight exaggeration.[/p][/quote]Used by thousands but they all have free passes :-) Northamboy
  • Score: 0

3:41pm Fri 9 Jan 09

Paramjit Bahia says...

Andy Locks Heath wrote:
I'd half agree with you Paramjit but there is nothing wrong with the profit incentive in transport - earning a profit requires efficiency, hard work and a lot of planning - it doesn't just happen and the idea of money just rolling in to fat cats is an unrealistic myth. But I do strongly agree with you that privatised public transport should be actively regulated by both central and local Goovernment with integrated timetabling, multi modal through ticketing and subsidy of loss making services but not on a pound for pound basis - there needs to be an incentive to make the private company work to reduce subsidy or lose the franchise. All these things the Government could have rectified and hasn't. Isn;t it funny how all the things we want our taxes to pay for - eg education, health, transport, care for the elderly etc we can't afford, yet they take second place to things we don;t want - such as wars that others won't fight, a bail out of Icelandic incompetence, a burgeoning public sector full of non jobs, index linked pensions we can no longer justify, illegal immigration, the "human rights" of terrorists we are scared to repatriate.......
Andy you have made very valid points. In some developing countries like India both nationalised and privately owned bus services operate comparatively cheaper and reliable (Although state of buses is no so good) services, because remedies you are suggesting are implemented.

In our advanced UK we as as society have become so relaxed that we do not hold our politicians to account properly, and let them get away with easy life.

Fight against terrorism and other matters raised by you have become a joke. How can they be serious in fighting terrorism when first Blair and then Brown gives millions of pounds Pakistani intelligence which is well known for spreading terrorism. Also while life is made hell for genuine immigrants, all crooks have to do is tell the authorities that they have killed X number of innocent people in their homeland and are wanted as terrorists. Hey presto you are welcome.

Our admin structures are breaking down faster than melting polar ice. Public transport is only one of the victims.
[quote][p][bold]Andy Locks Heath[/bold] wrote: I'd half agree with you Paramjit but there is nothing wrong with the profit incentive in transport - earning a profit requires efficiency, hard work and a lot of planning - it doesn't just happen and the idea of money just rolling in to fat cats is an unrealistic myth. But I do strongly agree with you that privatised public transport should be actively regulated by both central and local Goovernment with integrated timetabling, multi modal through ticketing and subsidy of loss making services but not on a pound for pound basis - there needs to be an incentive to make the private company work to reduce subsidy or lose the franchise. All these things the Government could have rectified and hasn't. Isn;t it funny how all the things we want our taxes to pay for - eg education, health, transport, care for the elderly etc we can't afford, yet they take second place to things we don;t want - such as wars that others won't fight, a bail out of Icelandic incompetence, a burgeoning public sector full of non jobs, index linked pensions we can no longer justify, illegal immigration, the "human rights" of terrorists we are scared to repatriate....... [/p][/quote]Andy you have made very valid points. In some developing countries like India both nationalised and privately owned bus services operate comparatively cheaper and reliable (Although state of buses is no so good) services, because remedies you are suggesting are implemented. In our advanced UK we as as society have become so relaxed that we do not hold our politicians to account properly, and let them get away with easy life. Fight against terrorism and other matters raised by you have become a joke. How can they be serious in fighting terrorism when first Blair and then Brown gives millions of pounds Pakistani intelligence which is well known for spreading terrorism. Also while life is made hell for genuine immigrants, all crooks have to do is tell the authorities that they have killed X number of innocent people in their homeland and are wanted as terrorists. Hey presto you are welcome. Our admin structures are breaking down faster than melting polar ice. Public transport is only one of the victims. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

6:20pm Fri 9 Jan 09

The Funky Monkey says...

What about the poor pensioners of Velmore there is no mention of them being cut off from getting out by the selfish gimme gimme money grabbing attitude of Bluestar/ Solent Blue Line/ Beep bus or whatever they call themselves this week they force Velvet into a no win situation by running a bus 3 minutes in front of their bus so Velvet pull out only to be followed just over a month later by Beep bus / Bluestar with them cancelling the B & C services that run through the estate. Mr Wickham i hope you are proud of the reputation that you are building for Bluestar. It's about time people started to show Mr Wickham that they are tired of the attitude of his company & show them by putting their money/Passes on other companies buses, so Ladies & Gentlemen i would say to you avoid using Beep bus, Bluestar & Wilts & Dorset & support your local independent companies like Brijan & Velvet in this area.
What about the poor pensioners of Velmore there is no mention of them being cut off from getting out by the selfish gimme gimme money grabbing attitude of Bluestar/ Solent Blue Line/ Beep bus or whatever they call themselves this week they force Velvet into a no win situation by running a bus 3 minutes in front of their bus so Velvet pull out only to be followed just over a month later by Beep bus / Bluestar with them cancelling the B & C services that run through the estate. Mr Wickham i hope you are proud of the reputation that you are building for Bluestar. It's about time people started to show Mr Wickham that they are tired of the attitude of his company & show them by putting their money/Passes on other companies buses, so Ladies & Gentlemen i would say to you avoid using Beep bus, Bluestar & Wilts & Dorset & support your local independent companies like Brijan & Velvet in this area. The Funky Monkey
  • Score: 0

9:25pm Fri 9 Jan 09

gorf says...

do all these pensioners pay full fayre to use the bus service?

why cant solent blue line put an eco friendly single decker on the route?
do all these pensioners pay full fayre to use the bus service? why cant solent blue line put an eco friendly single decker on the route? gorf
  • Score: 0

2:40am Sat 10 Jan 09

ninebob says...

Bluestar have also dropped the C1/C2 as commercially run routes presumably to exact yet more subsidy from the council ! Hopefully the council will see sense and give the contract to another operator.
Bluestar have also dropped the C1/C2 as commercially run routes presumably to exact yet more subsidy from the council ! Hopefully the council will see sense and give the contract to another operator. ninebob
  • Score: 0

9:01am Sat 10 Jan 09

Phantomdoll says...

Before the introduction of the free bus pass, I (a pensioner - how I hate that term!) used the bus quite often to go to Portsmouth, partly because I didn't want to use my car on such journeys and partly because the train takes slightly longer and doesn't set me down where I want to be. Over the last 8 or 9 months I (and sometimes my husband with me) have used the X27 about twice a week to visit my 9-month old granddaughter and to babysit while her parents go shopping. If the route is scrapped, I will be forced to use the train or drive down. Thanks very much! Since I retired I have tried to use public transport but am thwarted in every direction. During the summer months, the bus is usually full with people making day trips to Portsmouth - I'm sure they are not all pass holders. Also, I do know of a lady who uses the bus every day to travel from Thornhill to Portsmouth, where she works. I wonder how she will get to work now?
If Velvet decide to continue with the route, good luck to them. I don't much care who runs it provided I can easily visit my family when I wish (without using the car) and also that the bus keeps to the timetable - which Blue Star is not famous for!
Before the introduction of the free bus pass, I (a pensioner - how I hate that term!) used the bus quite often to go to Portsmouth, partly because I didn't want to use my car on such journeys and partly because the train takes slightly longer and doesn't set me down where I want to be. Over the last 8 or 9 months I (and sometimes my husband with me) have used the X27 about twice a week to visit my 9-month old granddaughter and to babysit while her parents go shopping. If the route is scrapped, I will be forced to use the train or drive down. Thanks very much! Since I retired I have tried to use public transport but am thwarted in every direction. During the summer months, the bus is usually full with people making day trips to Portsmouth - I'm sure they are not all pass holders. Also, I do know of a lady who uses the bus every day to travel from Thornhill to Portsmouth, where she works. I wonder how she will get to work now? If Velvet decide to continue with the route, good luck to them. I don't much care who runs it provided I can easily visit my family when I wish (without using the car) and also that the bus keeps to the timetable - which Blue Star is not famous for! Phantomdoll
  • Score: 0

12:07pm Sun 11 Jan 09

joanne.harrison@talktalk.net says...

My company will be relocating at the end of March to Whiteley. In order for me to get here I wiil have to catch this bus and change buses so I can to work a travelling time of 2 hrs. If they stop this service I will no longer be able to travel to work. Why not put one of the small buses on until say 10am thus reducing the fuel cost whilst still providing a service to those who work in the Portsmouth area.
My company will be relocating at the end of March to Whiteley. In order for me to get here I wiil have to catch this bus and change buses so I can to work a travelling time of 2 hrs. If they stop this service I will no longer be able to travel to work. Why not put one of the small buses on until say 10am thus reducing the fuel cost whilst still providing a service to those who work in the Portsmouth area. joanne.harrison@talktalk.net
  • Score: 0
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