Monday, 29 October 2012

Hedge Enders: a third option from Velvet

Velvet have announced that the A will extend from Hedge End to Southampton from Sunday 2nd December. The new section will be tagged on to the existing Eastleigh-Hedge End section. Velvet A will no longer serve Botley or Boorley Green, but they will be served by an extended Bluestar 3 from this Sunday.

This means that Hedge End to Southampton travellers now have a choice of three bus companies:
Bluestar 3 (once an hour weekday daytimes)
First 8/8A (4 per hour weekday daytimes)
Velvet A (every 30 mins weekday daytimes)

Velvet are yet to announce fares, but they must surely be preparing for some fierce competition from the larger operators. Their big advantage though is their route: direct via Thornhill Park Road and Northam. Bluestar 3 is about to be diverted via Peartree and Woolston and First 8/8A run via West End and Chartwell Green before getting to Bitterne.

The new timetable is here. Sundays will see a bizarre situation where Velvet will be running commercial As between town and Hedge End, while First will be running Hampshire-subsidised As between Hedge End and Eastleigh - and the two won't be timed to connect.

19 comments:

  1. Wow. i wasn't expecting this. See, this is why companies like Velvet deserve to do well. This route is innovative and will help the people of Hedge End greatly. The Bluestar route 3 has been dwindling for years so Velvet should be applauded for bringing a better service to the travelling public. This is where companies like xelabus do not deserve to do well. All they do is run directly upon other people's routes for no reason in order to steal customers that they don't deserve. Their routes aren't at all innovative, just direct copies so they will ultimately fail. This route will benefit so many people. Bravo! I live in Weymouth but I will be up to have a ride around soon!

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    1. "The Bluestar route has been dwindling for years"??? Not sure where you get that fact from? I frequently ride this route, and the loadings are generally very good. I think the re-routing will further improve it too! Good luck to Velvet too. One of the friendlier operators around....

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    2. Bluestar's 3 used to run every 20 minutes.
      Then it was cut to half hourly, and then it was cut to hourly.

      If that's not dwindling, I don't know what is.

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    3. Yeah and now it goes all around the world before getting to town

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  2. I must admit I am not sure whether Velvet are going to make it a commercial success. They have extended into Southampton before and that was a relatively quick withdrawal.

    Saying that I do wish Velvet luck. They persevered with the C routes when HCC withdrew funding and found that it was not sustainable in the long run, something other operators would not do!

    I do agree somewhat with our anonymous poster above about Xelabus. When you consider their recent reputation of:

    * Trying to run commercial services when they were turned down for contracts in Winchester (surely a contract is there for a commercially unviable service)
    * Spreading services so thinly that it would be impossible to cover for vehicle failures
    * Running an advertised Open-Top service with a Dennis Dart for days on end

    and that is just what I consider a few of the issues that I can remember over the last 6 months of so.

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  3. I think that the main difference this time around between the extended A and the old 500, is that the A has a far better frequency and runs later in the day. I may be wrong, but I feel the old 500 was a way of simply making use of a vehicle that would have otherwise been sat spare, whereas this extension to the A seems to be a real innovation.

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    1. When Velvet was running its Ringwood/Soton service it also ran a service B into Soton mainly as a feeder. It was this route that prompted Beep to appear on the scene. The 500 appeared later sadly only for a short time

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  4. The old 27 is back from Southampton to eastleigh

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    1. That version of the 27 was fairly short lived and was extended Soton/Romsey being 1 of 3 route numbers at that time for the Romsey section

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  5. Wasn't the old 500's secondary function to facilitate driver change overs for Velvet's Burley/Ringwood/Southampton services?

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  6. I must be getting cynical,but I wonder how long it will be before Xela will pop up with a spoiler route to ruin this venture? After all,it does go near some supermarkets.

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  7. Hmm, now what's to stop First running a commercial version of their Sunday "A" into Soton from H.End. Or, to run a Mon - Sat version head on against Velvet???
    I think Velvet should be treading very carefully. Should be more niche perhaps like Brijan or Emsworth & District, & not take on the bigger boys who could knock um for 6 with a "beep bus 2" situation. I can see both Bluestar running a similar service & First too, especially to protect their services in Soton.

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  8. With reference to the last reply aren't First and Bluestar too busy battling amongst themselves in the Townhill and Waterside area's to divert resources to yet another skirmish?
    I'm inclined to think that Bluestar will probably withdraw from the Hedge End area altogether!
    Being a niche company is ok but it rather limits your scope of operations, i think Phil would have thought long and hard about this expansion and any repercussions this may cause before introducing it and let's face it Bluestar have left the door open to another operator since reducing their service 3 to an hourly frequency

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  9. Velvet should be able to pinch some of Bluestar 3 passengers as Bluestar are soon diverting their 3 via Woolston and Peartree before going to Bitterne thus increasing journey times and probably higher fares to Hedge End so this gives Velvet a major advantage.

    Also the only reason why I can see Bluestar doing this is to get passengers from First but I can't see why. First run 27 buses an hour from town to Woolston compared to 1 from Bluestar and Peartree has 3 buses an hour with First and 1 with Bluestar and Peartree is not a high passenger usage either.

    Now lets look at Jouney times from Town to Hedge End
    Velvet: 24 minutes (2 buses per hour)
    Bluestar: 40 minutes (1 bus per hour)
    First: 45/50 minutes (4 buses per hour)

    From what I see there is clearly one winner

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  10. I cannot really see there being much competition between Velvet and First in Hedge End, the routes only come together for a short distance along Northam Road. What Velvet win on speed First probably win on price as Hedge End is in their Southampton ticket zone. Bluestar look to be the real losers here.

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  11. The BS change to the 3 route is the first time I can remember BS making an innovative change to their route rather that chasing a competitor. But do they really think there are passengers to be had from Boorley Green - it surprised me that Velvet stayed that long in the area

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  12. Quite...a gap in the market does not mean there is a market in the gap !

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  13. Velvet only served Boorley Green as HCC paid them a subsidy to do so, I guess since Bluestar now go there commercially HCC have saved the money by withdrawing their contract with Velvet. The only gap the new BS3 fills is Hedge End to Woolston, I somehow think this is hardly worth the effort, certainly can't imagine it's worth any more than Hedge End to Northam which Bluestar has gifted to First and soon Velvet.

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