Fareham and Gosport bus rapid transit scheme ‘could work in Portsmouth’

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PORTSMOUTH should seek to introduce a bus rapid transit scheme if it is serious about changing people’s road habits.

Councillor Sean Woodward, who oversees transport for Hampshire County Council, believes a bid could be drawn up for a dedicated bus link similar to the one between Fareham and Gosport.

Most people appreciate no-one is going to give up their car, and why on earth should they? People have freedom of choice.

Councillor Sean Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for transport

The purple E1 and E2 Eclipse services, operated by First, have carried more than 3.3m passengers a year since 2012, with some vehicles clocking up 87,000 miles along the route.

Cllr Woodward said it could serve as an extension or be separate to the city’s park-and-ride.

But he believes people should not be told to get rid of their cars to ease congestion when better offers are not currently available.

It comes after Portsmouth Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome told a Southsea resident who complained to him about congestion that she was ‘part of the problem’ in the city as she owned a car.

Cllr Woodward, who is also the leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘Most people appreciate no-one is going to give up their car and why on earth should they? People have freedom of choice.

‘If they find it too tough, they can look at other modes of transport and transport authorities will do what they can to help them. It wouldn’t go down terribly well telling people to give up their cars, and they never will.

‘The bus link between Fareham and Gosport has been an amazing success and provides more than three million journeys a year.

‘It could well be something that would work for Portsmouth.

‘I’m not sure if the park-and-ride has been terribly popular, but if there were more frequent buses taking people out directly to parts of the city then there might be something there.’

The Fareham and Gosport bus rapid transit project, which covers a mile-and-a-half stretch of the A32, cost £20m to get off the ground.

But Cllr Woodward said: ‘It’s something through the Solent transport authority we could joint put together a bid for. We have a good track record of success.’

Portsmouth Tory council leader Cllr Donna Jones says she wants to work on ‘innovative’ transport projects to improve traffic flow in the city.

In recent times, Cllr Ellcome has suggested a road congestion charge could be imposed in Portsmouth to cut down car use – though that was shot down by Cllr Jones who said it would never happen ‘under her watch’.