Fight goes on to keep regular bus service running

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A BUS company has rejected proposals to reinstate a regular service to Alverstoke, despite community outrage at cutbacks to the route.

As reported, First reduced its number 9 service from 30 buses to just six a day, ending at 5.30pm on weekdays.

Representatives from First bus company met Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and borough councillors about the changes but rejected proposals to divert other bus services through Anglesey ward.

Gosport Borough Councillor for Anglesey, Alan Scard, said First dismissed five alternatives he put forward as ‘not commercially viable’.

Cllr Scard said: ‘They say that the problem is that there’s not enough people using the bus in Anglesey.

‘But what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

‘If there’s no decent bus service then of course people won’t use it.’

Cllr Scard said Hampshire County Council was now subsidising the new number 11 route at a cost of £45,429 a year to ensure there were at least some bus services for Alverstoke.

He said he favoured a plan for the Anglesey loop to be removed from the No 11 route and the money to pay for more number 9 buses to Alverstoke.

The cuts have affected students and commuters alike.

St Vincent College has been forced to plan its own bus service, to start in September, to compensate.

Assistant principal Andy Grant said: ‘The cuts are limiting opportunities for students from certain parts of Gosport to get to school in the morning and get home safely.’

Mr Grant said the changes affected at least 15 students.

But First managing director Marc Reddy said the proposals had not been rejected, and he was waiting for Cllr Scard to take up the issue with the borough council.

He said: ‘Due to the extremely low demand for bus services around Alverstoke – on average 1.5 people per journey – any service enhancements would need to be secured with funds from the local community.

‘Hopefully Cllr Scard is taking a case to Gosport Borough Council for the additional funding to enhance the service.’

Retired railway inspector John Webb, 81, of Monckton Road, said the cuts were ‘absolutely stupid’.

He said: ‘Now we’re completely cut-off. It means this whole part of Gosport is left without a decent bus service.’