BUS operator Velvet is giving up the route that serves the Alresford area.

Eastleigh-based Velvet will stop running the 67 service from Petersfield, Cheriton, Alresford to Winchester from May 12 with the service to be taken up by Stagecoach and Xelabus.

Velvet managing director Phil Stockley blamed the winter flooding which disrupted services and led to passengers findings different ways of travel.

He said: “It is basically a business decision because the income has dropped quite sharply over the winter. When people make alternative arrangements some don’t come back again.”

Mr Stockley said Velvet would fufill its obligations until May 12. He said the new timetable would not be identical but very similar.

Richard Farrer, of Cheriton, who has children at Perins School and Peter Symonds College in Winchester, said he was unhappy at the timing and the way the issue had been handled by Hampshire County Council who subsidise the service.

Mr Farrer said: “I think the communications has been poor and whilst I sympathise that it is something ongoing, the timing is highly unfortunate. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of sympathy from Hampshire with regard to students and their exams.”

He said he understood Peter Symonds College to be “furious” but in a statement the college would only say: "The College work closely, on an on-going basis, with all local bus companies to secure the best possible services for our students."

A Hampshire County Council spokesperson said in a statement this afternoon: “From Monday May 12 the school service from Petersfield to Perins School, will no longer be run by Velvet after they gave notice to terminate their contract. However, Hampshire County Council has awarded a new contract to Xelabus which will start from May 12. Children who receive bus passes from the Council will be issued with new ones, until all the new passes have been issued the old ones will remain valid.”

Velvet took over the 67 route in June 2012 as part of expansion plans into the Alresford, Petersfield and Basingstoke areas.

Mr Stockley said he had hoped to increase the buses in the area from two to six or seven and even establish a local depot. “It is disappointing but we will go back to being a bit smaller,” he said.