‘IT REALLY is a case of use it or lose it’, is the message from the executive member for transport at Hampshire County Council.
The stark warning comes as the council agrees to pour £480,000 over six years into subsidising a bus service to Hill Head after First announced its intention to scrap that part of the route in January.
At a meeting on Monday, Councillor Sean Woodward signed off a tender for a bus between Hill Head and Fareham, to replace key elements of the 5A, 6 and 21 services.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘I am pleased that we have been able to review our support for buses in the area to ensure that a service is retained.
‘However, the county council has limited resources to support public transport and it is essential the community make full use of the service.
‘I am happy to ask the tax payer to support the service for a few months to give the community a chance to show the value of the bus service by using it more, but it is simply not possible for the council to step in every time a commercial service is stopped because low passenger numbers make it uneconomical to run.
‘Therefore, I hope we will see an increase in passenger numbers, and the service return to commercial viability.
‘I have asked for a review of the service in six months time, to ensure that the service is being well used, and that the subsidy represents good value for money.
‘It is now up to the community to use the buses and make the routes work commercially again.’
Hill Head borough ward councillor, Arthur Mandry, welcomed the news.
He said: ‘It is good news the council has filled the gap left by First and the resurrection of this service is very welcome. However, the county council are spending a huge amount of money and to do that without reviewing it would be irresponsible.’