First bus to ferry’s Eastney landing at risk after ‘failure’ of £20K council trial on Hayling Island
An EXTENDED city bus service could come to an end if it does not see a ‘rapid increase’ in passengers.
That is the warning from First Solent as its 15 service from Commercial Road in Portsmouth to Eastney Lifeboat Station averages just eight passengers per week.
The route was extended to the Eastney landing in September as part of a trial to provide onward transport links on both sides of the Hayling Ferry.
But the £20,000 Havant Borough Council bid to fund the 15’s opposite number on Hayling Island has been branded a ‘failure’ – bringing the water link ‘no new passengers’.
Now Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for traffic and transport, councillor Lynne Stagg, is urging First to continue their service to the ferry until at least April.
‘If the service isn't used, we will lose it,’ she said.
‘After speaking with residents, I have asked First Solent to consider extending the trial to include the Easter holiday period, when I suspect take-up will improve.’
She added: ‘I agree there has been a low take-up of this service, but there is a need nonetheless.
‘Not everyone travels by car and those who do should have more sustainable travel options available to them.
‘We are working hard in Portsmouth to reduce congestion and improve air quality, and providing a bus service which replaces the need to drive into the city is one way of achieving this.’
Cllr Stagg met with First Solent’s interim managing director Simon Goff last week to discuss the future of the 15’s extension to Eastney.
The pair recently launched three new year-long bus services in Portsmouth, thanks to an £80,000 subsidy from Portsmouth City Council.
But the 15, which remains an unsubsidised service run commercially by First Solent, is at threat, Mr Goff said.
‘So far, passenger numbers, even with the bus on the island, have been very disappointing,’ he said.
‘However, we want to give it every chance of success and will work with the council to try and make it work – but we will need to see a rapid increase in patronage otherwise the extension will, as it is now, be unviable without support.’
For the 15 to see success, Mr Goff said bus services on both sides of the ferry would be ‘vital’.
But Havant councillor Tim Pike has confirmed Portsmouth City Coaches’ service from Eastoke Corner to Ferry Road, on Hayling Island, would not continue beyond its six-month trial.
Like First’s 15, the bus on Hayling Island started operating in September – but notice has now been lodged to bring it to an end.
The 15’s ferry-linked service operates hourly Monday to Friday.
Buses depart Eastney Point on the hour between 7am and 4pm, with last buses departing at 5.14pm and 6.14pm.