Praise for new rapid route as users get to grips with the BRT

GOOD START Passengers getting an Eclipse bus on the BRT route. Picture: Steve Reid (121434-510)
GOOD START Passengers getting an Eclipse bus on the BRT route. Picture: Steve Reid (121434-510)

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THE bus rapid transit route between Fareham and Gosport is a smash hit with users.

As well as buses, the route – which was launched on Sunday – can be used by cyclists, so avoiding the busy A32.

David Wright, 52, of Park Road in Gosport, said: ‘I cycled along the route to work and I thought it was fantastic.

‘It was faster and safer than the A32.

‘I hope they are able to continue the route further into Gosport, towards Holbrook.

‘If the intention is to get people off the A32, perhaps they could do that by encouraging non-cyclists to get on a bike.’

The BRT connects the two towns along the disused railway line.

Gosport councillor Peter Edgar, who was one of the first people on board the Eclipse buses, spent many years campaigning for Light Rapid Transit.

This would have seen a tram system linking Fareham and Gosport to Portsmouth through a route under the harbour.

Cllr Edgar said: ‘This is the largest investment in public transport since the train came in Victorian times. I travelled on the BRT and I was pleased with what I found.

‘We would all have liked the LRT. However, it would have been a brave politician who said no to the government’s offer of £20m for a bus route only, with no other spending option.’

But questions remain over whether it will be enough to cut congestion on the crowded A32.

Driver Bill Aylward, 74, of Peak Lane in Fareham, said the roads were as bad as normal.

He said: ‘I saw a bus at 8.30am and it didn’t have that many people on it.

‘The traffic was bad and it won’t be helped by the bus lane in Fareham either. I don’t think it will get people out of their cars.’

Hampshire County Council’s councillor in charge of transport issues, Cllr Mel Kendal, said: ‘The first 24 hours of service have gone very well and I am delighted those who have used Eclipse have been able to see for themselves the difference having a dedicated busway has made.

‘Clearly congestion is not going to disappear overnight but it will be reduced significantly if more people travel by bus.’