Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sunday service on Good Friday and Easter Monday

That's across all of our region's bus operators. Happy Easter!


  1. Well, all except Velvet A, which according to an Echo report, has been blocked in at the Eastleigh depot, with the gates of their yard blockaded, following a dispute between Velvet and their mechanics! All appears very unwell at Velvet.....

  2. Problems at Velvet again!

  3. Not sure how many buses velvet will be able to put out on service with concrete blocks across their compound - have they gone!?

  4. I would imagine as it was a Daily Echo report it was blown out of all porportion-I note in the past when they report service changes to operators routes, they have a bad habbit of leaving bits out, instead of printing the full statement that the operator gave them. PAC

  5. It’s sad when something starts to fall apart, and that’s exactly what is happening at Velvet. The once smooth operator is now confronted with a rocky road and it would appear that there’s only one conclusion.

    I’ve followed Velvet since it commenced services with the ‘A’ route and have been following Phil Stockley’s blogs for a number of years, enthralled by what was being achieved. As the years have passed, I've always had a lot of time and respect for Velvet. The way they deal with their passengers and their PR has been at a level that the big groups could learn a lot from. Naturally Phil brings a wealth of bus industry knowledge with him and this was reflected in this small yet perfectly formed business. Phil and the team have done an excellent job starting from effectively nothing and building a brand that has become known for great customer service whilst not being scared to be that little bit different and excepting recent comments, the company has managed to do what some of us in public transport can only dream of, is get passengers onside on social media.

    However the last few months have shown that Velvet isn't a well bunny. There is no denying the cuts to funding, the ridiculous free pass situation (I’m sure that’s another subject we could discuss until the cows come home) and roadworks have all played their part in putting the knife in to what was a superb company. Velvet now finds itself in some considerable debt if statements made by various parties are to be believed and whether the comments in the Daily Echo are correct or not, this wouldn't have surfaced some months ago so it's hard to believe that there hasn't been some issues with payments to external parties which is a concern.

    The debacle with Xelabus does very little to help Velvet's cause and has now caused unrest within the company. In all fairness the only thing that makes a company great are usually its front line people. It's difficult to see how all this won't affect them and their abilities - these being their customer service levels as there's only so much that any individual can put up with.

    Phil’s move to TM Travel was a surprise and part of me believed that we would see the TM Travel brand give way to Velvet. The latter does have that feel of a Trent Barton brand and would explain why Phil had decided to become acquainted with Stagecoach rail services so frequently! Unfortunately the Velvet brand is now becoming noted for poor reliability, ironically what TMT is famous for in the steel city.

    The one thing that I’ve always admired Velvet for though is their honesty and transparency, both not really in abundance any more on their website and in their social media. Since their new site has gone online, it’s become much more polished but at the same time more clinical. The Velvet that I knew would have been quick to defend its position on its website and not let its passengers find out about unrest in the local rag. Phil was the face of Velvet and now we don’t see that any more. A sense of ownership and pride hasn’t been present here for months because the man behind the magic isn’t there anymore – or at least he is, but in body only.

    It saddens me to say that I feel 2014 will see the end of purple buses in Hampshire, and it’s a great shame as I feel that so much has been achieved by the company. Drivers will see what’s happening and look elsewhere, causing further problems as without bus drivers there’s no bus service. Xelabus walking away from a deal will have worried people who trade with Velvet and once that seed of doubt creeps in, it’s almost impossible to do anything about it.

    If Velvet is to survive, it needs to go back to its roots – honesty, joviality and that sense of being the fun operator is what’s needed. Sadly though I think it’s all too far gone.

  6. Buses were virtually empty on Easter Sun,due to the big stores being shut.Could`nt they have given the required notice and run a service more intune with demand?It would have saved them a lot of cash and they could have put more buses into the eve,as lots of people go out on bank hol sun eves ,for obvious reasons.

    1. Totally agree that Easter Sunday buses were quiet, and a service more reminiscent of Boxing Day would be more appropriate. I cant ever see operators putting on more evening buses for one day, as that was the very reason that night buses died a death.

      Back to the Velvet situation..... I heard a rumour today that their drivers are not paying in their cash takings, in case they need to pay themselves! IF this were true, it would surely just hasten the demise, and be totally illegal? Surely the Traffic Commissioner will step in now?

    2. I would have thought that bus operators throughout the land would have by now had reduced services running on Easter Sundays as no major shopping outlets are open on this one Sunday in the year. On the Velvet situation I do wish all these rumours would cease, as we are all well aware it's rocky there at the moment, and does not need outsiders to add to it's problems by way of gossip. PAC

    3. Its not gossip PAC. I was chatting to one of their guys today, who told me that when the blockade was on, he went out job hunting. He found a new job straight away, and starts this week. Who would take a chance and go to replace him? Only the desperate I suspect. I can see this being repeated until no one is left to drive for them.

  7. What makes this worse is that Velvet are attempting to lie there way out of trouble... their twitter feed claims it was vandalism which simply isnt true. Their mechanics & landlords have not been paid hence concrete blocks across the gates.

    The writing appears to be on the wall - why is it being strung out so painfully for all to see? My best wishes to staff who i hope arent dropped from a great height...