Changes to bus services across Hampshire are a ‘silly idea’, say users

Concerns have been raised over bus changes designed to save 1m
Concerns have been raised over bus changes designed to save 1m
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Have your say

CONCERNS have been raised after the county council has proposed changes to bus services to make £1m savings.

Seven bus services in the Fareham, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville areas, run by First Bus Group and Xelabus, have been included in the consultation which aims to get the views of residents before any decision is made.

Elizabeth Humphries from Gosport said: ‘I think this is a really silly idea as buses are so important to many people for getting out and about. Some people don’t have access to cars so this would isolate them and trap them in their homes and if the services are reduced we would be restricted as to when we could go out.’

The 68-year-old added: ‘Buses are designed to ease congestion but this would create more traffic and cause further pollution problems.

Ray Cobbett from Havant said: ‘The economics mean operators are focused on routes that make money and unless loss makers are subsidised they are withdrawn.

‘Subsidies have declined by almost 80 per cent since 2010 while fares have increased by more than inflation.’

Currently the county council subsidises parts of the routes and in a bid to save money have proposed making operational changes including reducing the frequency and/or days of services.

The number 11 bus which runs between Fareham and Alverstoke is one which is being reviewed and Anglesey ward Councillor Philip Raffaelli said: ‘Many of our residents use the number 11 bus for a number of reasons and we really really want people to answer the survey so the county council can see this.

‘If money were not an issue I would actually like to see the number 11 service increased in frequency.’

The seven services in the area cost the council nearly £480,000 with 327,608 passenger journeys per year and it is unclear if the services would continue to run if the county council were not giving financial support.

A spokesperson for First Bus Group said: ‘ The council subsidy for the services currently under consultation allows us to offer bus services at times when the fares revenue do not cover the cost of operations, staff wages etc. While the consultation is ongoing, and it is difficult to determine the outcome, but we will work with Hampshire County Council to try and minimise any impact.’

Executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council,  Councillor Rob Humby said: ‘With pressures in social care building and council finances squeezed, we are having to consider how we reduce the subsidies we provide for bus services which do not have enough regular passengers to make them commercially viable for the bus operators to run.

‘To help us do this, we very much want to hear people’s views so we can make informed decisions. 

It may be that service frequencies on subsidised routes are changed, or the days on which some services run, so we particularly need to hear from the people who use these routes what they think about potential changes.  No decisions on any specific routes have yet been made.

The consultation runs until midnight Sunday August 5.

To have your say visit hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay/consultations/publictransportandstreetlighting