BUS-USERS in Portsmouth could be boosted by cheaper fares and a better service with plans for a depot off the M27 set to discussed this week.
A proposal will be put to Portsmouth City Council to allocate £30,000 of funds through its budget proposals in the hope of thrashing out plans for a depot on an unused site in the middle of junction 12, off the M27 motorway.
It is thought a depot would be attractive for operators in the area with them able to save time and money, while it could even attract a new bus company to the city – a move many residents would welcome after a number of high-profile routes have been cut in recent months.
Councillor Lynne Stagg, the council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said: ‘At the moment neither of the bus companies operating in Portsmouth have a proper depot in the city. This means they waste a lot of time and fuel driving buses to and from Portsmouth before they even start picking up residents.
‘If we can find a practical way to provide the facilities they need then it will save them money and hopefully that saving will be passed on to customers. Less travelling time could also result in a better, more reliable service.’
Cllr Stagg said there could also be wider benefits brought to the city if the council’s budget proposals are signed-off by cabinet and full council meetings this week.
‘Building a new depot may even attract a new bus operator to Portsmouth and an increase in competition would bring about similar benefits for residents,’ she said.
‘I want to make sure Portsmouth has the best bus service it can get, I think a new depot could help achieve that and I hope other councillors will join me in backing this proposal.
‘Portsmouth has the lowest level of bus use of any urban area in the south east and we want to get more people out of cars and into buses to improve air quality and health for everyone in the city.’
The move comes after the Department for Transport figures revealed bus use was down 17 per cent in Portsmouth from 2016/17 to 2017/18.
In response the council has attempted to fight back by encouraging people to use buses. The authority recently put in an extra £85,000 to subsidise services lost in Old Portsmouth and Tipner, and the Sunday 13/14 service.
Working jointly with Hampshire County Council, the council has also been shortlisted to bid for a share of a £1.7bn fund for public transport improvements.
Cllr Stagg added: ‘I continue to work closely with bus operators to ensure services meet the needs of our residents. Through our air quality work we are looking at how we can get people out of their cars and using public transport more, so a good bus service is vital.
‘I am confident that improvements in services, infrastructure and the customer experience will lead to an increase in bus use.’