Historic Portsmouth bus service runs for last time

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VINTAGE buses ran from The Hard in Portsmouth today to mark the end of an historic bus route.

Passengers bid an emotional farewell to the 17 and 18 Portsmouth bus services after 81 years of operation.

Buses 17 and 18 on The Hard, Portsea, in 1969

Buses 17 and 18 on The Hard, Portsea, in 1969

First Hampshire and Dorset Ltd have revamped their bus operations in East Hampshire and the 17 and 18 circular route will be replaced with a modernised route tomorrow.

The event was organised by Darren Marshall, who was a driver on the route for seven years.

He brought along his 1984 Leyland National bus for the day, which was joined by a unmistakable red London Route Master and a Leyland PD 2 Portsmouth bus.

The buses the first bus departed at 10.03am and will be running until 5.19pm. The event attracted passengers of all ages after they were sent on their way from The Hard interchange by Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lynne Stagg.

Mr Marshall said: ‘The route has been running for 81 years continuously.

‘It survived the Second World War, the changes in the 60s and 70s, deregulation and after 81 years it’s coming to an end, which is a bit of a shame.

‘I was a driver on the route for seven years and you get to know the passengers – it’s a very popular route.

‘We’ve got to congratulate First and it’s about time they did something with the routes in Portsmouth.

‘A lot of them haven’t changed over the years and I wish First all the best with their changes.’

Sue Gillingham, from Lidiard Gardens in Eastney, said she regularly relies on the service and will be sad to see the changes come into place.

She came to offer her support to Mr Marshall, who she has known since he was a child.

She said: ‘I depend on this circular service so much, I will be confused.

‘I use it every day – I think a lot of people will feel very confused at first.

‘Eventually people will get used to it but I hope the drivers have training on it and are clued up.’

Cllr Stagg said the bus service will be missed by lots of people.