Some Eastleigh bus routes currently operated by Black Velvet Transport (Velvet) are to change hands to Xelabus. At the heart of the deal is route A, linking Eastleigh, Southampton Airport, West End and Hedge End every half hour. This is supplemented by five routes providing dedicated student transport into one of the area’s largest colleges. These routes have been operated commercially by Velvet since 2008 and will transfer to Xelabus from 22 June. The additional services being operated by Xelabus are expected to increase the number of buses operated, which it claims opens up more opportunities for the company to expand. The development follows a deal that fell through between the two operators that would have seen Xelabus acquire Velvet’s shares (see B&CB 1267, 14 March 2014).
MD of Velvet, Phil Stockley, said, ‘After a difficult winter, we have made a decision to reduce the size of the company and focus on providing really high quality service on a small number of routes. We will continue to operate between Hedge End and Southampton and on our local routes around Southampton city.’
MD of Xelabus, Phil Blair, said, ‘We specialise in college routes and the Barton Peveril services offered to us by Velvet fit in very well with our current services and the A route also operates alongside the Barton services to allow alternative services for students. We will be numbering the service A to X4 to complement our network of Eastleigh area services. In addition we will also be improving the frequency on our Eastleigh to Chandlers Ford service from hourly to every 30 minutes following an increase in demand. The new arrangement will allow existing and new passengers to travel between Chandlers Ford / Hiltingbury and Hedge End. We are already planning a number of new services for the Southampton, Fareham and Gosport areas which will start in September.’