THEY were over almost as suddenly as they began.
As reported by the Daily Echo, Bluestar and Velvet were both operating the S1, S2 and B4 routes after the latter returned to the road just 48 hours after announcing it had ceased trading.
It led to passenger confusion when vehicles from both companies arrived at bus stops at the same time.
But now Bluestar has withdrawn from the route after being asked by the city council to do so, leaving the way clear for Velvet.
A Bluestar spokesman said: “It was at the request of the council that Bluestar take on those routes to make sure there was a consistent service for commuters. The council directly requested we do that and the reason we continued to do that when Velvet returned was because we were waiting on word from the council.
“As soon as it became clear that Velvet was back the council asked us to stop running those services and that is what we have done. There is no bus war, we were just there to make sure that commuters had buses available.”
Other rival companies Wheelers and Xelabus took on services after Velvet’s initial announcement but as previously reported Wheelers withdrew from the A route between Hedge End and Southampton while Velvet are not returning to the X4 and X7 Hedge End and Chandler’s Ford services now run by Xelabus.
The city council has confirmed it is working with all the companies to ensure all Southampton routes are maintained.
A spokesman said: “The council was made aware that Velvet would not be operating services following Wednesday, July 16 and made appropriate arrangements to fill the gap left by non-operation.
“We are aware that Velvet has re-commenced operations and over the next few days we will liaise with all concerned to ensure contracted services operated for Southampton City Council are maintained.”
Meanwhile mystery still surrounds the identity of the company that is taking over Velvet, with administrators Chantrey Vellacott refusing to reveal the name claiming it could jeopardise the buy-out process.
Velvet and Bluestar previously clashed in 2008 and 2009 after a long-running battle for routes and passengers across the Eastleigh borough.