Passengers meet bus bosses ahead of BRT celebration

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BUS users were invited to meet drivers and First Bus staff in the run-up to the one-year anniversary of the Bus Rapid Transit scheme.

The BRT was launched with the E1 and E2 Eclipse bus services on Sunday, April 22 and has since seen 1.3m passengers climb aboard.

Yesterday disabled Caroline French, 58 of Elmshurst Road in Gosport, told staff she had never before ridden the bus as she used Dial-a-Ride.

But after a chat with driver Mandy Mitchell, she was soon keen to use the service, which runs from Gosport bus station to Fareham bus station via a dedicated road on the former Gosport railway line.

Ms French said she was particularly impressed with the ramp on the Eclipse buses.

She said: ‘I can hopefully travel in my mobility scooter on the bus, go to Fareham or wherever I wish to go and meet my friends in Lee-on-the-Solent.

‘I can do it without anyone else being with me – it will give me freedom because there’s a ramp they can drop down for me to access the bus.

‘I’m hoping to use it because since they changed bus tokens to a bus pass, taxis are out of the question for me.’

And 2,000 people who signed up online, yesterday or at a similar stunt in Fareham last week are in for a chance of winning free bus tickets for Monday, courtesy of the firm and Wave 105FM.

The roadshow also saw birthday cake and balloons given out, while another competition saw bus users get a chance to win an iPad.

As reported, the firm said there has been a 64 per cent increase in people using the service compared to its predecessors, the 82 and 86 services.

Overall users of public transport has gone increased by 11.86 per cent.

Marion Andrews, 65, of Wootton Road in Lee-on-the-Solent was with Ms French and uses the Eclipse after she catches a connecting bus.

But she said the bus lane caused problems.

She said: ‘You’ve lost space for care users, and it’s a bit of a bottleneck.

‘I think you could still use it as a car and a bus lane – I don’t see any problems with that.

Steve Hobbs, commercial bus manager at First Bus said: ‘We really wanted to say thank you for using us.

‘We’ve had a really good increase in passengers and shown it’s worth its while.’

On Monday ‘Bus Angels’ will be handing out cake at Fareham and Gosport bus stations from 8am to 10am.

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