Buses are crammed as new BRT service takes first journey

PACKED One of the Eclipse buses on its journey on Sunday.  Picture: Steve Reid (121434-458)
PACKED One of the Eclipse buses on its journey on Sunday. Picture: Steve Reid (121434-458)

Morning weather and travel: Bleak start to the day

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GOSPORT and Fareham’s new busway has carried its first passengers – and proved so popular that drivers had to turn people away.

The multi-million pound bus rapid transit (BRT) route is now open to the public.

EAGER Sasha Tripp and Lee Bennet  with their children Nikkita Tripp, left, Hannah Harberd, centre, and Lexi-Mae Bennet, front, were among the first passengers.  Picture: Steve Reid (121434-475)

EAGER Sasha Tripp and Lee Bennet with their children Nikkita Tripp, left, Hannah Harberd, centre, and Lexi-Mae Bennet, front, were among the first passengers. Picture: Steve Reid (121434-475)

It connects the two towns with a dedicated busway which runs along Gosport’s disused railway line.

Passengers were able to hop on the buses for the first time yesterday.

They were so full some people were unable to board and had to wait for the next one.

Sasha Tripp, 27, of Tichborne Way in Gosport will use the new route to take her daughter to school.

She said: ‘I wasn’t expecting them to be this popular already.

‘I’m going to use them for getting to the school because it will be easier.

‘I would probably be tempted to buy a weekly ticket as well.

‘It’s a good idea and it will make getting to Fareham a lot easier as well.’

The buses can bypass congested traffic on the A32 for much of the journey between the two town centres.

The scheme attracted controversy after neighbours objected to the plans.

But work finally started last year after Hampshire County Council won the case at the Supreme Court.

Transport bosses hope it will persuade people to leave their cars at home and switch to public transport.

Mike and Ange Walder are both bus drivers for First and will be driving the new Eclipse vehicles.

The pair hopped on a bus yesterday to try it out as passengers.

Ange, 45, said: ‘It’s brilliant.

‘The buses are comfortable and the whole thing is a good idea.’

The buses all come with leather seats, free wireless internet and service announcements.

Mike, 40, said: ‘As a driver it’s much better.

‘I’ve been driving up and down the A32 for 20 years and the traffic is terrible.

‘This means we can miss all of that. From 7am it would normally take about half an hour just to get to Fareham from Tichborne Way.

‘But this will be much quicker.’

An official launch will be held on Wednesday.