Call for total rethink over role of bus in Gosport and Fareham

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MORE road building to accommodate more cars is not the answer.

That was one of the messages at a lively meeting last night to discuss the state of public transport in Fareham and Gosport and surrounding areas.

First Hampshire's Eclipse bus service runs between Gosport and Fareham

First Hampshire's Eclipse bus service runs between Gosport and Fareham

The meeting was organised by Gosport and Fareham Friends of The Earth and Transition Fareham after they carried out a public transport survey in libraries and got 188 responses.

The survey found, among other things, that the infrequency of buses and the price of fares were the main reasons that put people off using the bus to get around.

There were calls for more evening services covering Fareham and Gosport.

Fareham councillor Peter Davies, who sat on a panel at the meeting at Sacred Heart RC Church in Fareham, said: ‘I came here by bus this evening. How I get home I do not know.’

Cllr Davies added: ‘My council made a mistake in the 1980s and 1990s. We have the development of Whiteley with no proper provision for public transport.’

He said public transport would be ‘at the core’ of the Welborne development, adding: ‘You can’t build more and more roads to accommodate more and more cars.’

The meeting comes as the county council is cutting £1.5m from its bus service budget, with changes to routes and reduced evening and Sunday services.

Neil Beswick, a transport manager, said he had seen the authority’s government funding slashed by around a half in the last five years.

He said subsidised taxi services had been kept in rural areas and money had been given over to keep the Hayling Ferry going.

Chris Todd, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said the country has lost more than 2,000 bus services due to cuts.

‘It has a huge impact on people who haven’t got another way of getting round,’ he said.

He called for a total rethink of the way authorities approach buses.

He said: ‘What is the role of bus services? Is it just to move people around who can’t afford a car or is it serving a much bigger important purpose around economic development, social inclusion and public health?’