Bus journeys in Portsmouth area fall drastically in last decade as government urged to implement reforms

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Bus journeys in Portsmouth have fallen by over a quarter in the past decade as services face cuts.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show passenger numbers are on the decline. The Government introduced a £2 cap on all bus journeys outside London last year to encourage more people to travel by bus.

Initially slated to end in March, the scheme has been extended by three months from April to June 30. A further £80 million in funding has been provided to protect vital bus services during the same time period.

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Bus journeys are falling in Portsmouth.Bus journeys are falling in Portsmouth.
Bus journeys are falling in Portsmouth.

DfT statistics show passengers took 7.8 million bus journeys in Portsmouth in the year to March, up from 3.9 million the year before (impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic). Despite this rise, these numbers are significantly down from pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019-20, 9.9 million journeys were taken, with services falling by 29 per cent over the last decade. The Campaign for Better Transport said additional investment was ‘welcome’, but urged them to implement long-term funding reform to encourage more people to take the bus.

They also supported the extension of the £2 bus fare cap for single tickets. Chief executive Paul Tuohy said: ‘This will reassure communities across the country who are reliant on buses to access work, education, and healthcare.

‘However, another extension only gets us so far. We are urging the Government to implement long-term funding reform to avoid more uncertainty and give everyone access to affordable and reliable bus services.’

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David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said the Government must use the time the funding buys ‘to work with councils and operators to develop a long-term, reformed bus funding model with significant new money’. Elderly or disabled passengers accounted for 2.5 million (33 per cent) of journeys in Portsmouth, according to the DfT.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘Travelling by bus remains the most popular option for commuters and families across the country, but the sector is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic. We’re providing £155 million to help passengers save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital bus routes – helping with the cost of living and enabling people to get where they need to in an affordable and convenient way.’