One test will decide if BRT can be called a success

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We’ve long known that the key to solving the problem of congestion on our roads lies in persuading motorists out of their cars and on to public transport.

Our road networks are well-established, but there are so many vehicles using them that key routes soon become clogged during peak times.

The A32 between Gosport and Fareham is a particularly bad bottleneck. So a bus highway promising to link the two should, in theory, be a good idea.

But as the first passengers get ready to use the Bus Rapid Transit route on Sunday, it’s clear that only one thing will truly indicate if it can be classed as a success.

Those who already use the bus service between the two towns will no doubt appreciate the luxurious new Eclipse buses, complete with leather seats and Wi-Fi access.

Yet in order to prove its critics wrong, the BRT must do more than please those who already rely on the bus.

What it really needs to do is find a way to woo people out of their comfortable and convenient cars and on to this new fleet of buses instead.

Those behind the scheme must have recognised the importance of this point.

First Group says this is why Fareham train station will be incorporated into certain routes – even though this means some journeys will now take longer in future.

We understand why that will be frustrating for those commuters who already use the bus. An extra 11 minutes can make all the difference when you’re in a hurry.

But the fact is that the BRT is here to stay. Making it work must be a priority for all those involved.

Many commuters don’t end their journey in Fareham or Gosport. They go on to other places, including Portsmouth and Southampton.

That means the BRT has to find a way to link our transport networks together if it is to force a meaningful change in culture that sees more of us shift from our cars to the bus.

The jury is still out on whether this can be achieved. But as the BRT gets ready to open, we all have a reason to hope it can work.