FIRST Group has responded to criticisms of its new bus timetable by reinstating an early morning service.
The travel firm came under fire for axing some journeys to and from Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, but has now changed its mind regarding one popular service.
An early morning number 2 bus arriving at The Hard at 6.33am on Sundays has been restored to the timetable so that hospital employees will not be late for work.
It was part of a huge shake-up of almost all the routes in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Waterlooville, which the company has claimed will improve its network.
But as reported, there were concerns from some local people that vital services would be lost, prompting many customers to contact The News or First Group itself.
Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he had spoken to the bus company regarding the 6.33am journey and was pleased when it changed its mind.
‘This service gets people there for the early shift at QA on Sundays,’ he said.
‘I think what First did was look at the same service at 7.34am, which people don’t tend to use, and assumed the earlier one wasn’t needed either.
‘But if you do the early shift it’s the only service that you can use, so they just made a mistake.
‘It is good to know that if people get in touch and tell them about things they are willing to listen.’
He added that the company faces a large amount of work to advise all its passengers about the new services.
‘I’m no expert on this,’ he said. ‘But one of the problems they are going to face is that there are hundreds and hundreds of bus stops in Portsmouth.
‘They are all going to need new timetables and signs putting up, which is going to give them a lot to do before November.’
Rob Harding, 35, of Curzon Howe Road, Portsea, said he was glad the early morning service had been reinstated.
‘It would have made getting to QA in the morning almost impossible without a car,’ he said.
‘And I hope if people raise other problems they will listen to those as well.’
A First spokeswoman said: ‘An extra journey has been added into the timetable of the new Service 2 on Sundays following feedback.
‘This journey, which will leave The Hard/Gunwharf Quays at 6.33am, is expected to be of some benefit to those people who wish to get to the QA Hospital for work.’
First customer services can be reached on (023) 8071 4800 or by visiting facebook.com/firsthampshire.