A VITAL 1km extension to a rapid bus route into a town centre has received millions in funding from the government.
Commuters on the South East Bus Rapid Transit Scheme (BRT) will soon be able to catch the fast bus from Fareham down into the centre of Gosport.
The service has been consistently reliable since it was first launched. I am hoping that the extension of the service will encourage more people to use it.Councillor Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council
First Bus’ Eclipse service, which opened in 2013, cost £20m to get off the ground and covers a 2.8-mile stretch from Redlands Lane in Fareham down to Tichborne Way in Gosport.
A southern extension was planned as part of the initial proposals but was delayed due to lack of funds.
However, proposals for the extension which would run from Tichborne Way to Rowner Road have been granted £6.93m from the Department for Transport.
Councillor Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, welcomed the news.
He said: ‘This is really exciting news to hear for Gosport.
‘This extension is something that we have been after for some time, since when the scheme was first being developed. It shows great faith in the rapid transit scheme by investing in moving it forward.’
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, confirmed that the council would be awarded the funds from the National Productivity Investment fund yesterday.
According to customer research date compiled by the council, there has been a 14 per cent shift from people using cars to the bus since the scheme was launched.
Cllr Hook puts this down to its reliability and as an alternative to the A32.
He added: ‘The service has been consistently reliable since it was first launched. I am hoping that the extension of the service will encourage more people to use it.’
The scheme directly replaced the numbers 82 and 86 service, following the route of the disused railway line between the two towns.
Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for transport on the county council, said: ‘With this substantial investment, we can now take forward our longstanding plans for the scheme to extend the Gosport to Fareham bus rapid transit busway.’
The scheme is also earmarked to travel north through Fareham up to the planned town of Welborne, next to the M27’s Junction 10.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, added: ‘More people are getting out of their cars and using this bus route. Its continued success is also cutting down on air pollution by taking cars off the A32.’