Monday, 21 July 2014

Bluestar hands M back to Velvet

Bluestar have advised that they are no longer running the M, which they had taken on after Velvet collapsed last week.


Now Velvet are running again, Marwell Zoo have said they want to keep the contract with Velvet.


While this is good for Velvet and their new owners, whoever they may be, passengers lose out. With Bluestar running the M, you could use a Southampton Plus Dayrider at £5.60 to get from the city to the zoo. Now Velvet are back on the route, the Bluestar ticket isn't valid on the M and it now costs £8 for a Solent Travelcard to make the same journey.

Hats off to Bluestar for the professional yet jovial tone of their notice to passengers.

84 comments:

  1. I think they way Bluestar have worded the news reports on its website about the emergency contracts to cover Velvet's services, sums up the total confusion with Velvet buses being off the road and the company "ceased trading" to then being back on the road with new owners less that 48 hours later.

    On Bluestar's website, in the report about the S1, S2, B4 and schools 502, I quote: "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."

    This sums up the total confusion and I feel any respect Velvet had, which was a fair bit, has been demolished by the fact that the sale of Xelabus fell through, granted with some bad press, and then the fact they ceased trading and didn't think about telling anyone before they restarted operations on Friday.

    An interesting fact though, Wheeler's have launched their WA service over the exact same route as Velvet's A to start in early September, and were only allowed to start it earlier when Velvet had gone bust, but then ceased operations when they realised Velvet was back on the road, will be interesting to see what happens if Wheeler's route does start come September. Will there be a bus war? Orange vs Purple...

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  2. It's a complete mess-I note today the A has some strange looking red vehicle on it, the engine of which sounds as if it's going to explode any moment-No Information yet by statement of what's going on from any source-I note also from comments on twitter, that even when they only run between Hedge End and Southampton, they don't seem able to start their first journeys into Southampton on time each day-Things are going to need too be improved, as if Wheeler's start up against them they will have real problems,not that at present they don't have already-I note too that several school/college contracts seem to be changing hands between operators from September-The E8 which seems to be being operated by Xelabus has disappeared off the timetable as with the evening and Sunday X7-Needs a lot of improvement over the coming weeks as customers won't put up with this for much longer-PAC

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  3. Given the recent turn of events,I wonder what odds you can get for the new owner being the previous one? I notice there has been no word in public from that person...someone who is usually very vocal. All most curious readers.

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    1. I've always thought it is slightly strange that Velvet's former owner hasn't said anything about it, whether it be on his twitter or his blog. Doubt the customers are very amused either, as they are none the wiser as to who is actually running their buses!

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  4. Also, methinks Velvet have in a nut shell P***ed off BlueStar & Wheelers & probably Xela as well, so they better beware if any of them decide to run a competing service against them.

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    1. Quite agree with the comments posted-If I were Bluestar,Wheeler's or Xelabus I would by now be pretty fed up with what has happened,more so if I were Xelabus, as I seem to receive bad reviews-My only criticism of Xelabus has been in my postings on this site has been that the service information is not kept up to date,apart from that I have no quible in what they have tried to do,so I hope Phil Blair will if He still reads this site and my comments, will not take any offence in what I'm posting, as I'm not trying to be critical, but just posting in the interest of the travelling public who would like a clear picture of what is what-Please Phil Blair don't think everone is against you and your operation-Some might be but I'm not-Regards.

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    2. Xela on twitter would be good

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    3. Xela were on twitter, but they took it down because they didn't like people complaining.

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    4. Ah, now that is a shame as it means the company does have problems & that management have issues in dealing with it. If XELA are meant to be in memory of the poor lad who lost his life so early in his childhood then everyone should be proud to stand up for Xela & not bottle out of things. Shame, as a great bus co. will be remembered for what it is & what it represents - something positive from something negative. But I'm sure Xela are up for the challenge aren't you?

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  5. Bluestar's message may be jovial and professional, but it's not particularly helpful to the passenger, who might be unaware of all this business.
    'These services will be once again be operated by the previous provider' is certainly true, but it doesn't tell the customer who is running it.

    But I can fully understand that they cannot bring themselves to mention the dreaded word V*l*v*t !

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  6. Sorry, I've been a bit busy.

    Here's an update.

    The laws are very strict about trading while insolvent - in very simple terms it is an offence to trade knowing you can't pay your bills. So following the failure of (what we then thought was) our final attempt to sell the business the week before last, we took legal advice which said we could no longer trade. As everyone knows, this led us to close the gates on Wednesday.

    However, the company did not enter administration, liquidation, receivership or any other formal insolvency process. We simply stopped trading. All other things being equal, liquidation would have followed in due course but nothing had actually happened formally by Thursday.

    Therefore, the company retained its operators licence and live service registrations - but obviously failed to operate them on Thursday.

    During the course of Thursday a prospective buyer emerged completely out of the blue. But obviously an acquisition would only make sense if the company retained its work and contracts, therefore for it to be a viable proposition the company needed to resume trading as quickly as possible.

    The law regards a sale as a going concern as being a far better outcome than a liquidation, and the creditors would undoubtedly agree. So while there are some here who seem to think it would be simpler if they hadn't been allowed to go ahead, and the staff had remained redundant and the creditors left unpaid, just because it was less confusing (and I do kind of understand the point), having established their credentials I was legally and morally bound to enable them to resume trading while sale negotiations continued.

    Southampton and Hampshire were kept fully informed during Thursday, so while I note the view expressed by some that the company had somehow made a unilateral decision to operate its contracts on Friday, Velvet in fact resumed B4, S1 and S2 with the full knowledge and consent of Southampton City Council. Southampton did retain Bluestar for Friday as an insurance policy, just in case Velvet didn't turn out for any reason, but once they saw Velvet had run a full service on Friday they stood Bluestar down.

    I am not involved at all with the new operation. I am still a shareholder until the legal completion of the sale, but once that happens I will not retain any connection at all. They have a completely new management team in place and to be fair to them they have injected substantial resources into the company and there is every reason for staff and customers to feel optimistic.

    My own involvement with running Velvet finished when we locked the gates on Wednesday. The story from Friday onwards is someone else's to tell, and hopefully with a happier ending!

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    1. Very sad times-As a keen Velvet supporter as you won't be there may I wish you all the best for the future and thank you for all your past efforts-Regards PAC

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    2. Phil, best of luck mate and best of luck to the new owners of Velvet and all their staff!
      You've done the company proud by running it differently, through the attractive paintwork on the buses and the exceptionally good social media presence. While it is sad to hear that you have no more involvement in Velvet, it is a better ending that the company entering liquidation and everyone being made redundant.

      Thank you and good luck everyone involved in Velvet.

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  7. These financial situations rarely arise suddenly. A sad end to what started out so positively,but in the end its all about the bottom line,and the red pen.No doubt more operators across the country will follow given the budget cuts faced by the counties and local authorities.

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  8. Thanks to Phil for his honesty and for giving us a full update on matters. No doubt there will be those on here who will "have a go" but I for one wish Phil all the very best for the future and his loyal staff at Velvet as well.

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  9. I would like to join the others here and wish Phil all the best. Velvet were widely regarded as one of the greatest independents, especially with regard to customer service and social media interaction, something that all at Velvet should be very proud of.

    I would also like to wish the new Velvet owners the best of luck, and hopefully we'll still be seeing purple buses on the roads of Hampshire in a decade!

    Andi

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  10. I'd also like to wish Phil all the best for the future, christ this bit of the blog is starting to look like a leaving card!
    Anyway at least Phil can say he gave it a go and along the why injected some fresh thinking and some new ideas on how bus travel could and should be , so for that he should be congratulated...... let's face it, if it was that bloody easy, we'd all be running bus companies

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  11. Thanks to Phil for the detailed information above which stops any "dodgy dealing" rumours. One wonders how the situation managed to get like it did causing Phil's Velvet to be one bus stop away from insolvency. Hindsight is a wonderful thing - I know - I've actually been made bankrupt - but he more than likely did what he thought was right all along the Velvet lifetime route. Best of luck in what you do next Phil. And good luck to Velvet - The Next Generation also.

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  12. At the risk of extending this virtual Leaving Card (!), I would echo the sentiments made by many other commentators. Full credit to Phil for leaving the comfort of the big bus companies and trying to do something a bit different.

    Sadly, Eastleigh became more crowded with operators and there are only so many paying customers to go round (and to pay the operators' bills). I'm pleased that the Velvet staff haven't found themselves on the scrapheap, after contributing to the success of the company.

    And Phil's frankness and openness on this blog has been refreshing to read. I hope that you don't disappear from the scene, Phil. Best of fortune for your next venture - and keep us posted (even if it's not buses in the Southampton area). We'll all be keen to follow your progress.

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    1. Good luck to you Phil in your future projects, you created a unique company and tried your best and maybe it was a slightly overcrowded market in Eastleigh, considering the fact that in Fareham there is no competition for first and they seem to think they can do what they like including continually reorganising the routes and services every six months constantly confusing and frustrating the passengers, maybe Phil should've set up in Fareham instead and shaken things up abit or maybe that could be food for thought for his next venture, anyway I hope the experience hasn't ruined your enthusiasm for the industry and that your future projects are successful and I'd like to wish velvet, its staff and its new owners every success for the future. best wishes to all.

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  13. phils frankness and openness !!!!
    the poor drivers have not been paid on velvet for some up to 6weeks and now funny they cannot get hold of phil !!!!!
    well done that man !!!

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  14. I suspect that Phil was the biggest financial loser of all in the Velvet closure/sale process, and that he always intended to pay all of his staff, but sometimes things don't work as you would like. Like other bloggers I wish all of the Velvet team, past and present a successful future

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  15. Just to correct a a point of fact, every member of staff was paid without fail every week up to and including the last pay date under my regime which was Friday 11th July. And I have been in regular and frequent contact over the last week with all those staff who have chosen to make contact (which is most of them). I have no problem with people holding a negative view of me or my company if they have good reason to do so, but bare-faced lies are harder to accept.

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    1. Well said Sir-Regards PAC

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  16. Well done Phil - perhaps anonymous 21.21 would like to "put up or shut up!"

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  17. A number of drivers are leaving the "new" Velvet as they are unsure of their future and we at Xelabus are delighted to welcome 6 of their staff to our company giving them permanent driving positions. As part of our programme of expansion from the Autumn we may be able to accommodate more to give these people a sound future.

    By the way look out for the new Scanias due to arrive next week. We also have now in full swing the servicing and mainteance programme including painting of the ex Velvet DAF double deckers all due to make their appearance late August.

    PHILIP BLAIR
    Managing Director
    Xelabus Limited

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    1. That is a little ill-advised Phil, unless you've not posted this of course.

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    2. "New" Scanias - really ?

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  18. What an inappropriate email above

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    1. Yes I think a little bit out of order under the recent circumstances=I'm pleased that ex Velvet staff will be accomodated by yourself in the future or by any other company=All I ask is your website be put right as to what you operate, as it is not upto date at present, although it has been recently updated where it is more correct=I'm pleased to note that where you stated that you would not post on this site anymore a few blogs ago you have still seen that you can=Most people are not trying to have ago at you or Xelabus, but would just wish you improve updates on your site as too what you operate=If you think I am having ago at you may I say where I live I'm on the 801/802 bus route=I, each morning look out of my flat window and have never seen these two services pass my window in each direction to/from Warsash at the time they should do over the past months=In fact they are are two of the most reliable services I have ever observed=In August you state on your site the timetables for the Autumn school/college term will be displayed, and I;m sure it will, but please let's have the rest of the operation shown as well=Regards

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  19. I was quite simply letting readers on here know that we have had Velvet staff asking for positions at Xelabus and we have been pleased to take them? And just a simple update for those that follow this what we are doing with the fleet? Thats all.

    I said last time I would not bother to support this site but decided perhaps I should give it one last go. Well as it appears I have offended a few of the people on here I take my bow and leave you all to deliberate over the various issues that seem to keep you all busy.

    My last blog

    PHILIP BLAIR
    Managing Director
    Xelabus Limited

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    1. All said it would be a shame to lose your input Phil. I was just making the point that given recent sensitivities, it was ill advised to say 'Velvet has troubles and the staff are bailing'.

      The new investment in buses is most welcome, and I look forward to seeing them soon, you could always share a photo on here once you have them in stock and once they're painted, as I guess they'll receive the standard livery.

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    1. Please remove any mentions of Alex from this response. It has no bearing or relevance to be on this site.
      G Blair, Xelabus

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  21. This is forum...perhaps that has been lost on X-bus.

    The trouble with independents is that those running them often have big egos and rarely listen to input.They know best,or not,as the is often the case. Why did Velvet fail,and why no apology from the owner? A rapid rise is often followed by a rapid fall...others know their place in the pecking order and make a steady living.As I said previously,X-bus got what they wanted without spending a penny...one less rival in a small town. Watch out though,as next time they could be the victims.What margins are they working on to gain all this work...and how long can it last? Time will tell.

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    1. The age of the owner is interesting, early 60's. Is all this expansion a prelude to a sale of the expanded business, and thus, a retirement?
      All businesses have some form of exit strategy.

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  22. I would respectfully request that the blogger above removes my sons name from this website. I do not read it often as personally I do not fine it informative but a cheap and easy way to offend people in a very non diplomatic way. My company was setup four years ago after losing my son Alex and the business in my own view has gone from strength to strength in securing new work and tenders. The majority of our business has been built on reputation. It is no secret we tried two attempts to takeover the Velvet company and to save jobs in the local area. Due to state of the company financially we were not comfortable in doing so as it would of had a major impact on Xelabus - something we were NOT wishing to do.

    The company now have 25 operator licence discs and a further number have been applied for. We also have much newer buses joining the fleet, new services planned and a number of ex-Velvet staff joining us.

    As I have already said, I would be grateful to those who have put my sons name on this blog to remove at earliest convenience as it has no bearing or relevance to cheap and nasty remarks often found on this site.

    Happy to meet with anyone "anonymous" to discuss their issues with my company.

    Gareth Blair
    Operations Director - Xelabus

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  23. http://sotonbus.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/velvet-splits-in-two-from-monday.html LINKS TO -

    Phil Blair1 July 2014 18:27
    Dear Anons - We do work with charities and one very close to our hearts is Naomi House Childrens Hospice. Xela is Alex backwards and it is a permanent reminder of our dear grandson who died after battling Neuroblastoma cancer as a 3 year old little boy. So when you criticise Xelabus remember why it was set up. We do raise money for the Naomi House and provide our services free of charge to take families and ill children out for trips.

    We know we are not perfect but we are trying and sometimes comments on here hurt greatly.

    Please remember we would like to meet anyone who wants to learn more about Xelabus and would still welcome anyone who would like to call by and call in for a coffee.

    There is much more to do and we hope everyone will like the new 4 Scania buses coming at the end of the month.

    PHILIP BLAIR
    Managing Director
    Xelabus Limited

    But (AS SHOWN ABOVE) Mr G Blair, Mr P Blair put your sons name on this site a while back. Thus Alex & Xela do have a linked bearing. I'm sorry you feel that way, but if Mr P Blair does not want to stick up for your company by answering negative remarks on this public blog, I'm afraid Xela will be getting a bad press in the blogs either deserved or otherwise....
    As he said "it is a permanent reminder" - Positive image for Xela = happy memories of Alex. I feel for you in your sorrow as I have lost family too. So as I said - if a bus co. was named after any one of my loved ones I would be always trying to ensure a positive image.

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  25. www.busesetc.com/ , they are the new owners of Velvet . Reach any enthusiast local group and you will find what is in store for the people using those routes .

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  26. I'm sorry Gareth and Phil, you set your business up with the best and very honourable intentions but you are just not listening. People on this forum make legitimate observations about your family business, some of those criticisms may be harsh and difficult to read and may even come across as spiteful as people love to tribalise their interests (i.e. love "their" team and hate the opposition) and there were plenty out there who loved Velvet. However... Many of the observations and criticism of your business is legitimate based on what I've seen, but your choosing not to listen and even stoop to retorting the emotive subject of how your business got its name to deflect criticism. I have found a number of posts from your M.D. On this site distasteful, especially washing the dirty washing of the failed Velvet purchase in public.

    I've been successful in business for many years and would never dream of airing my competitors problems in public no matter what I thought of them or what anonymous commentators were saying about me, sometimes you just need to rise above it but you have reacted to the trolls in a most unnecessary way. I have sat in public meetings Phil and heard you talk. I have sat their and shaken my head whilst you run your competitors down in public, stop being negative it only gains you enemies and start being positive. You have the opportunity to do great things with your business but you will need friends and the public to help you on that journey.

    I can think of no better example of a business who got their public image right than Velvet. Ordinarily their buses were pretty naff, they chopped and changed their routes, their fares were a bit on the pricey side and some of their drivers were the dregs everyone else rejected and now it turns out their finances weren't too healthy too BUT what Phil S was absolutely excellent at was positively engaging with people, everything Phil S did in public was positive and people loved him and his business for it, his overwhelmingly positive stance meant people became advocates for his business and users chose to gloss over and overlook his failings - something they probably wouldn't do had it been an ordinary bus co. You have a very hard act to follow but you can start being positive and stop bleating on when someone writes something you don't like.

    Finally, YOU chose to put you son/grandson's name in a public forum, no one else. Having done that I find it very distasteful to try and sensor posts mentioning it which are critical of your business, not the lad.

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    1. The 'velvet' affair does not paint xelabus in the best light, especially the posting saying 'we are taking on their drivers'. That's ill advised and not very mature and it would be more prudent to not make that point so publicly. Other operators would be a lot more guarded in their postings.

      Xela have come a long way in almost 4 years, and it is very noticeable that their route network is appearing to be a lot more stable than it once was with the constant chopping and changing that was going on. The livery, harking back to the old H&D and fleetnumbering series for vehicles are hallmarks of the 'enthusiast' operation that in many cases is an utter disaster area. Hence the comments at the time of anoraks playing buses.... Are they valid? Well that is the perception of people with neighbouring companies looking inward. Especially when those same companies are run down in public.

      So it's pleasing to see their route network becoming more stable and xelabus going for a specific area, and a specific type of operation and going at it. The fleet presentation appears to be excellent too. These are all things that show the doubters that they're a good company, and one worth respecting. So will be those 4 new Scania Omnilinks when they come, visible signs of progress and more importantly a statement that they intend to invest in their bus operations with quality new stock as well as older vehicles too.

      Phil S and Velvet had a reputation for doing something different from the norm, something that was their intention when they set out. Sometimes in life you need luck, and failure is the flip side of taking risks. Sometimes, taking those risks works and they set you on the path to better and bigger things, and a business worth developing. A lot of people in the industry just dream of starting their own bus companies, and the climate being what it is, its a hiding to nothing now.

      Phil S, before he started Velvet, worked for a number of respected operations in the safe corporate world before deciding to start his own business. Phil, when he was in that world was responsible for helping a number of people start their careers in this industry, something he did not have to do, but he went out of his way to do it anyway. Those he helped will forever remain grateful for what he chose to do, as you can count on not many hands the number of people who will help those who want to get into this industry.

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    2. I went to Eastleigh today with a friend to do shopping in the Town |Centre-I saw all Xelabus services running as they should do with no problems at the time I was there between 1200 and 1400-In the bus station I obtained a leaflet off of a bus driver of the current operations which was in the leaflet rack on the bus-My only criticism of your operation is the website which does not match the timetable leaflet in information-For the past few weeks your website has displayed that Velvet are no longer operating and has not been updated to the fact it still operating in a revised form, but however you will be operating some of the former operations they operated-Some you have updated but not all-I never knew until today in picking up your Eastleigh timetable leaflet that you actually ran at off peak times direct into Haskins on the X4 which is marvelous--As you do not have a facebook page as Velvet has stated on their website recently you withdrew it because you did not like receiving complaints as to your operation,where do ordinary passengers go to comment in any form-I find it difficult to accept you think everyone is against your operation which I'm sure they are not-PAC

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    3. I think people are not against Xela - the true bus passenger & enthusiast wants a steady reliable service. With info about any service being easily available & the company easy to approach. Now we have the internet as part of our everyday lives - a tweet here & a facebook post here etc. The 'modern' generation want to talk in this way. First, Bluestar, Stagecoach South, Brijan, Wheelers & Velvet all Tweet. First, Brijan, Wheelers & Velvet are on Facebook too. But if all Xela can offer is a site that isn't always up to date & a telephone number you can see why people complain!

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  29. Admin - stop the censorship and let us have free speech.

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    1. The comments that I've removed are those that have strayed from the bus-related topic in hand. I'd rather not have to remove anything, but I can see how some comments do not move the discussion forward and could be interpreted by some people as unnecessary personal attacks. I believe in freedom of speech, but with any kind of freedom also comes responsibility - in this case the responsibility to keep the comments civil and on topic.

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    2. Quite agree-There has to be a civil level however critical we might be-PAC

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  30. I think the problem is free speech is one thing, but it was becoming a slanging match. I believe both sides have points, there does seem to be alot of negativity toward Xela on here, and I can understand how the owners of Xela could feel that they are constantly having to defend themselves. That said they are a business, and do need to look at what is important. They should be engaging there critics rather than having public arguments with them. They have offered to meet people in person, at there offices, but that is quite a closed invitation to the few people that actually read this site. Perhaps they should do some public forums, maybe at Eastleigh bus station once a quarter, its a great marketing opportunity, and will give them the chance to engage with their customers and potential customers. I do wonder how many of the critics on here would attend. The social media question is really something they need to accept. All of the big companies embrace this, and realise that they are not likely to get positive feedback all of the time. In fact if you have bad service you are more likely to say something rather than poor service. What these companies do have however is the chance to respond to their critics and answer any questions and solve problems they may have. Every company gets things wrong, they are run by human beings after all, but the successful companies recognise this, and try and change their critics mind. Lets give Xela a chance, they are a small business in a very difficult industry,

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  31. Hmm, admin removing posts, but maybe they shouldn't, but should insist on Anons actually logging into the site with a name? Or alternatively close the subject thread? After all it started with Marwell bus going back to Velvet & not the "Xela-story". Anyhow, everyone can probably give a good/bad customer service tale for any of our local bus co's. The last poster wrote "Lets give Xela a chance, they are a small business in a very difficult industry". But I would add, they have been around a few years now & are backed by a 'bus world' family, so they should shrug off that "new kids on the block tag by now". I also agree with the topic of invites. Xela management should do an old fashioned "Bus Watch" type meeting like a public forum at the bus station. Although having a 1-2-1 with a bus co. boss is certainly a different approach. BUT please Xela get Twitter at least. Spent AGES waiting for an X4 at Rose Bowl earlier. Nothing came except a Xela van. Would have been nice to know at least what was happening & not be left in the dark guessing. Ended up walking on a couple of stops & getting Brijan's 7.

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  32. Don't forget they used to tell everyone they are bus marketing experts ,yet rarely seem to mention their passengers interests,still use many old step entrance buses when cheap low-floors are available,and generally don't mix well with the local bus world,councils,or,on here at least,fellow enthusiasts.Yes,they are a bit off the game regarding new communication methods,but I think they have said more than once the company was set up purely to occupy their time rather than from a burning desire to try to improve the image of local buses,unlike the way Velvet,or uni-link, pre GA at least, tried to do.

    I really wish they would not attract such nasty comments and lose the bunker mentality towards everyone else,but only they are responsible for their reputation,and only they can change that,not all of us.To be asked to come round their office for 'a little chat' has a vague element of threat about it,but I doubt they would understand that either.

    Glad you caught a Brijan 7...small firm,local,popular,not pulling up any trees,but knowing their place,and run by a nice guy. Simples innit?

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  33. Anonymous 0924- amusing that you criticise Xelabus for "not investing" in low floor buses which are now cheaply available, and then hold up Brijan as a beacon of success.

    Regardless of any other flaws Xelabus may have (and they do seem to be gradually improving) , vehicle quality is not one of them- all their buses are clean and well-presented and it is rare to see a step entrance bus on any of their non-school routes. They have clearly invested a lot of money in getting their fleet up to scratch.

    I wish the same could be said of Brijan!

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    1. Yes a nice little operator is Brijan,but with terrible vehicles

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    2. Hmm - saw two X4's on Thursday. One a double-Decker step entrance & the other a low floor bus with no destination & just a piece of paper in the windscreen showing X4. Maybe it was a bad day for them? Brijan's buses are old I agree but the staff are the most friendliest lot I've ever met. Swings & roundabouts for all bus co's. Good/bad sides to all.

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    3. Well at least the service was being maintained by Xelabus and they do state they try too provide low floor vehicles but at certain times may have to use a step entrance vehicle due to circumstances outside of their control-I wonder if with Xelabus they will ever be able too do something right for some commentators on this site-PAC

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    4. That's a fair point. One small slip up & Xela are hung-drawn-quartered, whereby if First did the same it would be normal practise.

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  34. I think First probably have the newest fleet on average now in the city

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    1. Pity the service provided does in many instaces not match the excelence of the new buses

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  35. I see quite few 7s chasing each other.It's all very well saying up to every xx minutes,but when two come at once,that rather makes the next gap twice what it should be.It's all about the headway for the punter who just misses the pair.By the end of the day,are they all in a line with nothing for an hour ?

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  36. It's exactly the same for Bluestar as they are using the same roads with the same congestion.

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  37. See Xela's 'new' scanias are 11 plate - still that is certainly a big upgrade for them. Perhaps they really are trying to be a quality operator.

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    1. There were two of them at Gosport bus rally today, but they left before midday & before I could get a good look at them.

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    2. Well let's hope someone managed too take a photo of them during this brief encounter-Nice of Xelabus too have sent them there-PAC

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  38. Why is it some people use what could be a very good bus blog to have ago at bus companies all the time Phil B & Gareth B come on here to try to keep people informed but what do most people do just shoot them down in flames. I use Xela bus most days they have had some trying times since taking over the X4 but now seem to have got on top of the situation all i hear from the passengers is they want Velvet back well i personally think those prople should stop & think if they got Velvet back it would not be anything like it was before with the exception of 2 or 3 drivers Xela now have the best of what Velvet had i would say 1 or 2 of the best are still at Velvet 1 went to Wheelers the rest have either started at Xela or will be starting there on Monday so come on give Phil & Gareth a chance & i would say that the brainless have made this site useless to anyone really interested in the buses by chasing off the only people that could tell you the facts behind the stories! If you knew the truth behind whats gone on since the new Velvet started you would not keep on slating Xela you should turn your efforts to new Velvet drivers that did not return not being paid & that is the truth also a driver that did return being sacked for not wanting to change a duty with no prior notice also other staff being forced out by not being paid with one member of staff being owed over £2500 this is new Velvet for you i would like to thank Phil S for running a great bus company up until he went to work for TM Travel after that the company fell apart being left in the hands of someone who used it as a place to employ his friends & give them an easy ride which cost Velvet several thousands of pounds in wages! one last point on new Velvet some of their duties are not legal counting stand time as a break! Come on VOSA take a close look at the duties the worst of which includes the complete S2 timetable & a couple of A's all on a single duty!

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    1. " i would like to thank Phil S for running a great bus company up until he went to work for TM Travel after that the company fell apart being left in the hands of someone who used it as a place to employ his friends & give them an easy ride which cost Velvet several thousands of pounds in wages!"
      Now this is quite telling......

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  39. On domestic hours it is perfectly legal to count stand time as non driving time and hence wheel turning time only can be no greater than 5 hours 30 mins.

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    1. That is a a very grey area which is open to interpretation, but the reputable operators in this area do NOT schedule like this.

      For one thing, if you are relying on layovers of a few minutes here and there to make the duty legal, what happens when traffic congestion eats into this? It only takes a very minor delay for 5 minutes layover to become 0.

      Secondly, good luck in arguing that it is a genuine driving break when the driver is still required to be sat at the controls of the vehicle - which he will be if loading passengers.

      And this is before you consider the safety issue of having very fatigued drivers, which they will be if they've been driving for hours and hours without a proper break in busy city traffic...

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    2. It can be longer than 5h30 - up to 7h45 if you count the cumulative stand time as a 'break'.
      The duty card on domestic is the 'tachograph' and it is the record of your working hours, regardless of what occurs on the ground.
      Stagecoach routinely use cumulative stand time when constructing duties.

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  40. If it was dangerous then domestic drivers hours regs would be reduced by DfT. Which would in turn lead to higher costs and more expensive fares.

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    1. As I said, it is far from clear that your interpretation that driving time applies only to "wheels turning time" is actually correct.

      Even if it is correct, operators who schedule in this way are likely to be regularly breaking the law in practice as it only takes one minor delay or one set of roadworks for the actual stand time to be reduced and the duty to become illegal. Alternatively drivers could be made to always take their full layover at every terminus even if they have arrived late, but then the operator would be unlikely to meet punctuality compliance standards as it would be very hard to recover from delays.

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    2. Check the regs. Operators up and down the country both small and big plc's have been doing it for years

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    3. SOME operators up and down the country have been doing it for years, but there are also senior and experienced people in other operators who take the opposite view. It is a grey area.

      Where in the regs does it say that they are just a set of planning rules and that what actually happens on the road doesn't matter?

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    4. Stagecoach schedulers are trained to use it.

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  41. No law being broken, it's time at the wheel when the bus is moving.
    Your duty card, is the record of your hours, regardless of what takes place on the road. So as long your duty card shows the 'break' time and it makes up the time across the duty, then it's legal.

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    1. No sorry Anonymous you make your point sound very convincing, but its legal only on paper. If a PCV driver has "driven" over his/her legal hours then he must take a break.

      The bus does also does not have to be moving, but the engine running with the driver at the wheel.


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  42. i dont like xela buses because they smell and there drivers can be very rude and fairs are unfare

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    1. and the managment are just as rude as there staff i see this on the coments on this site i liked velvet but cant use them to eastleig any more i use brijans route 8 or the train when i can now i dont like x4 im a local hedge end liver by the way bring back velvet i still use them to southampton thouh

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  43. I am a wheelchair user from near Chandlers Ford. None of the Xelabus buses have disabled ramps and their drivers always have terrible trouble getting me on and off the bus, though credit to them - they always do help me (not always with a smile but i'll accept that). I phoned their number once and spoke to Phil Blair and he was very rude to me about it saying all their buses have ramps (even they do not) and told me they were not required to carry me on their buses. I feel very left out and helpless. At least their drivers ensure I can travel with them though as it is my only option.

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    1. Well as other commentators have stated on this site it's seems to be a communication problem between customer and Xelabus that seem too be the main issues with it's operation-If you find problems with not being given a reasonable answer to your complaint then go via your local councillor and see if they can be of any help in addressing your problem-As you have stated the drivers are doing their best in being helpfull,so it should not be them that suffer because there are no ramps-They are as probabally as peeded of as you are that there are no ramps that would help you-When you phoned and spoke to Phil Blair and you state He was rude in His reply,if this was the case it's out of order,but as I don't know what the conversation was,it would not be correct for me too make any comment,there being two sides to any story-To other commentators recently in the past few hours on this site,I can't believe all their drivers are rude, and it's just another pop at Xelabus-If you have a complaint and not answered by them to your satisfaction go via your local councillor and see how they reply after approaching Xelabus about your complaint-PAC

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    2. Also, write to Xelabus & then you should have a WRITTEN reply to which you can share with others as proof that he stated that they do not have to carry you & that all buses have ramps. For every instance that they don't then contact Xelabus again in WRITING. Contact Hampshire County Council (or Eastleigh) if the bus service is a contracted service too. Once you have evidence that you can prove (& I'm NOT calling you a liar) then Xelabus bosses will have to respond to any criticism made in public. Also, there is the disability act - research it regarding public transport. It may be that legally at the moment they don't have to carry you in a wheelchair, but I'm virtually certain that after a certain date they do & if they refuse without good cause (example being bus already has wheelchair user on-board) then you could possibly sue for discrimination. I'm no legal beagle, but I bet if you keep researching you'll find the facts & someone to advise you. Try asking VOSA too. Must add though that it's good that the drivers are helpful.

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  44. From the Xelabus website:

    X4 - Additional evening journeys (Thursday, Friday & Saturdays) from Eastleigh Bus Station at 1845, 1945, 2045 (Also now operates Monday to Wednesday evenings).

    It always has run Monday to Wednesday evenings!! :/ It's the X7 and E8 that only operates Thurs - Sat!

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  45. Hi everyone, just to put some kind of end to the anti-Xelabus theme on this particular post, I am now an ex-Velvet bus driver. I left the company soon after Phil Stockley sold up. Phil was a great boss, he was always thinking of his passengers and staff before himself and he tried to make bus travel fun for everyone involved.

    My last driving shift with Velvet was on Friday 1st August when I drove the A service for the last time, sadly for me, with one of the vehicles the new owners bought in when the brought out Velvet.

    I am now a full time bus driver with Xelabus and often drive the X4 service, or the A as I still think of it. Yes, Xela isn't as good as Velvet but it is an improving picture and the bosses are doing their very best to make it a good company, which may include improving public relations and company to passenger communication.

    I would like to thank Phil Stockley for his time at Velvet and would like to wish the new owners all the best of luck, although I feel another 'tragedy' for Southampton City Council is on the way...

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