Standing passengers on Boxing Day and breaking even on Christmas Day. Could the rest of us learn from Southern Vectis’ approach to Christmas bus services?
While elsewhere Christmas 2008/09 services were their usual patchwork affair across central southern England, as the table at the end shows, could 2009/10 be different? Has SVOC taken a lead?
SVOC is no stranger to Boxing Day buses. This time, though, it operated services commercially and was delighted at the response. So long as there are shops open and sales on, there’s probably more demand during daylight on Boxing Day than perhaps on an average Sunday. You need to select your routes arefully, though. Why let the opposition—car, taxi and where appropriate rail—seize the opportunity?
But Christmas Day was the real surprise. Where else in Britain will you find Christmas Day services, let alone commercial ones? Three SVOC routes, four duties—and 642 passengers. That’s an average of 80 passengers an hour or 20 per bus per hour. A disaster on any ordinary Thursday but Christmas Day is different. And just consider the goodwill.
We’ve decided to take a look at the possible implications of hristmas Day on the island. We’re not using full operational costing models because we can only approximate SVOC’s pay rates, fares structure, passenger profiles free travel reimbursements, current fuel prices, mileages and so on. These estimates do, however, give an indication of what SVOC might’ve achieved.
642 passengers. Assume one third farepayerts, one third season tickets and one third free travellers and an average fare of £3 taking into account reimbursements.
£3 x 428 passengers = £1,284 + goodwill from season tciket holders + general goodwill from all passengers
Drivers : £10 per hr x 8 hrs x double time x 4 driver x an allowance for on-costs = £800
Engineering support: c. £300
Fuel: 4 buses x (45,000 p.a. / 305) / 10 mpg for a Dart x £0.55 per litre (exclusive of BSOG and VAT) = £147
Contribution to fixed/semi-variable costs: zero. Operation on Christmas Day is marginal compared with a 305-weekday operation
Total Estimated Costs: £800 + £300 + £147 = c. £1,247
(This makes no allowance for management time or publicity costs)
£1, 284 profit less £1,247 direct costs = break even (plus goodwill as mentioned above). Remember this was Christmas Day. As an experiment with minimal risk, it worked for SVOC. It won’t work everywhere and on all routes. But it might surprise you where it does. Fair play to SVOC for giving this a try. SVOC’s already planning Christmas Day services for 2009.
|Christmas 2008/09||Christmas Day||Boxing Day||New Year's Eve||New Year's Day|
|Transdev Yellow Buses||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||No service|
|Wilts & Dorset||No service||No service||Saturday service including evenings but no Night Buses||No service|
|Solent Blue Line||No service||No service||Saturday service but last departures at or about 1930.Gap in service to Night Buses start||No service|
|Unilink brand||No service||No service||Saturday service with approx. 100 finish||No service|
|Southern Vectis||Three commercial routes||Five commercial routes||Normal service||Sunday service|
|Brighton & Hove||No service||Special services on about 15 routes||Saturday service with late finish at about 2200. All bar one night bus service operating normally||Sunday service|
|First Southampton||No service||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||No service|
|First Portsmouth||No service||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||Sunday service to 1900|
|First Weymouth||No service||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||No service|
|Stagecoach Winchester||No service||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||No service|
|Stagecoach Portsmouth||No service||No service||Saturday service but with finish at about 2000||Sunday service to 1900|