Taxi route idea should be looked at very closely

Rick Jackson believes Big Ben's bongs should not be silenced

RICK JACKSON: Our las total eclipse was typically British – cloudy

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If there’s one thing commuters in our area are used to, it’s sitting in traffic. Fingers drumming on the steering wheel, excruciatingly edging forward an inch or two at a time, wishing we were anywhere except stuck on a road going nowhere fast.

And for motorists who must travel between Fareham and Gosport, that scenario is all too familiar.

That’s why we have long backed the idea that a Stubbington bypass should be seriously considered for priority funding from the county council and the government.

And it’s why, after a long, tortuous battle, we broadly welcomed the Bus Rapid Transit scheme that celebrates its first anniversary today. As bus company First has revealed, passenger numbers have increased by 64 per cent on the new Eclipse buses compared to the old 82 and 86 services that preceded them.

And an overall increase of more than 11 per cent in the proportion of people using public transport is also good news – although, of course, not all of that rise can be credited to the BRT.

The reluctance to release actual passenger numbers is, perhaps, a bit odd. There are some who still doubt the multi-million-pound bus scheme’s value for money.

Releasing the actual numbers, rather than percentages, would go some way to easing those concerns if those figures are as impressive as First seem to believe them to be.

It’s also interesting to hear taxi firms staking their claim to use the BRT bus lanes.

While not as green as buses or trains, taxis are a form of public transport – and people who occasionally take a cab rather than run their own car are playing their part in easing congestion on those clogged-up roads.

There is a bit of self-interest here on the part of taxi firms who would prefer faster journeys to enable them to take more trips – and we’re not convinced that keeping fares lower is their priority.

But that rapid transit bus lane was paid for with our taxes, and taxi users are among those who have played their part. Without doubt, the idea deserves to be looked at closely.