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17 July 2014, 16:38
Services for bus users in Eastleigh and Southampton have been saved after an operator went bust.
Local bus companies Bluestar, Wheelers Travel and Xelabus have agreed to step in and take on routes previously run by Velvet Buses.
Velvet - which ran services in Southampton and the Eastleigh area - ceased trading yesterday following months of financial troubles at the Eastleigh-based company.
As of today (17th July) Bluestar will be running Velvet's S1, S2, B4 and 502 services.
Wheelers Travel have taken on the 'A' route between Eastleigh, Hedge End and Southampton until further notice, and as of last night had taken on 6 new drivers to cover the service.
Xelabus is now operating the X4, X7, E8, and 503 routes. All have unchanged timetables, except the X4 which will no longer run between Mondays and Wednesdays.
All three companies have confirmed that there will be no further changes to the timetables for these routes, and are up and running as of today. Incredibly, Xelabus managed to get its first bus onto the X4 route within 45 minutes of being asked to take over the service.
Wheelers will be honouring Velvet Buses Monthly passes until the end of July, while Bluestar will accept passes until their expiry date.
Local MP Mike Thornton, who launched Wheelers Travel first local bus routes earlier this year (pictured), said it was important that services were protected for local residents.
"I'm very pleased to see our local travel companies and Borough Council rally round to cover for the sad loss of Velvet. Thanks to Bluestar, Wheelers and Xelabus's intervention, residents who use these routes will not be stranded today."
"Despite more Conservative County Council funding cuts this year, I'm proud of the work local bus companies and the Borough Council have done to maintain key bus routes for local people."
Keith Trenchard of Wheelers Travel added, "It's never good to see a local company cease trading, but Wheelers are up for the challenge to keep the vital 'A' route going. Just look out for our orange buses and we will pick you up from regular stop as normal."
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