A RADICAL overhaul of bus routes across the region has been announced by First Group.
The company has revealed it is planning to change almost all of its services in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Waterlooville.
The majority of the old routes will be scrapped altogether and replaced with a new timetable which First hopes will increase the frequency and accessibility of its buses.
The changes, which are due to take effect from Sunday, November 18, have been given a cautious welcome by council transport bosses, but concerns have been raised that they will cause confusion.
Marc Reddy, regional commercial and business growth director for First in the south west, said despite some improvements, such as the new BRT Eclipse Service in Gosport and Fareham, the company’s current network is overcomplicated and out of date.
He said: ‘As a whole we don’t think the network currently meets the needs of those people who want and need to travel by bus in this area in the 21st century.
‘To address these issues we’re taking what we would consider to be quite a bold step.
‘Instead of continually tweaking individual routes, we have instead taken a step back, wiped the slate clean and developed something which we think will offer people what they need and which better matches the demand for travel overall.’
First said it is hoping to provide more frequent services on key routes, make better use of the region’s three main transport hubs – The Hard, Commercial Road South and Cosham, create better links with the Gosport ferry, provide new services between important destinations, such as Queen Alexandra Hospital and Fareham and Gosport, and overall have more buses running during the evening.
Portsmouth City Council’s Lib Dem cabinet member for transport, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, said he had met First to discuss their plans.
He said: ‘This will be a significant change for people – they are completely overhauling their entire network.
‘The reassurance they have given to us is that it is not a service reduction, it is a growing move for their company.
‘They believe the number of services they provide will be increasing.
‘But we are going to need to communicate this to the public or a lot of people are going to get seriously confused by the changes.’
Chairman for the Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, Alan Burnett, said because 40 per cent of households in Portsmouth don’t have a car, and more than 23,000 older people have free bus passes, getting the changes right is vital.
He said: ‘I see nothing wrong with taking a step back and looking at the whole system.
‘But I would hope if weaknesses are pointed out in their plans, First will be willing to rethink their routes.’
New maps and timetables will soon be available on firstgroup.com/hampshire.
A new Service 0 will operate between Hilsea/Tipner, North End, Copnor Bridge, Southsea and Fratton.
It will provide a link between most parts of Portsea Island with St Mary’s Hospital and will also establish a new link between Tipner and Fratton. Buses will run every 30 minutes in each direction during the day – Monday to Saturday – and every 60 minutes in each direction on Sundays and weekday evenings.
Operating between The Hard, the city centre, Fratton, Eastney, Highlands Road, South Parade Pier, Southsea and Old Portsmouth, buses will run every 10 minutes during the day – Monday to Saturday – every 20 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes during the evening.
It will offer a frequent service linking a number of the main shopping districts and evening journeys will be timed to connect with both the arrival and departure of the Gosport Ferry.
Serving The Hard, the city centre, Albert Road, Eastney, Copnor, Hilsea, Cosham, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Paulsgrove and Hillsley Road, buses will operate every 10 minutes during the day – Monday to Saturday – every 20 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes during the evening.
There will be a direct link between St Mary’s Hospital and QA and evening journeys will be timed to connect with both the arrival and departure of the Gosport Ferry.
Buses will operate between The Hard, the city centre, Lake Road, North End, Hilsea, Cosham, QA, Paulsgrove, the Portsdown Inn/Portchester, with some journeys on Service 3 extended to Fareham, via White Hart Lane, and journeys on 3A extended to Fareham via North Portchester. Buses will run every 10 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday – every 20 minutes to Fareham on Service 3, and hourly on Service 3A – every 20 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes during the evening, both hourly to Fareham. As a result the frequency of buses serving Portsdown Inn will be improved, while regular journeys will also operate between Fareham and QA and between Paulsgrove and the Hard, responding to passenger demand for services in these areas.
In addition the combination of Services 2 and 3/3A will collectively improve the frequency of buses between Paulsgrove and Cosham as a whole, with buses running along common sections of the route every five minutes during the day Monday to Saturday.
Serving Gosport, Cherque Farm, Lee-on-the-Solent, Stubbington, Greyshott Avenue and Fareham, the new Service 5 will follow the same route as the current Service 34.
Taken in tandem with the new Service 5A, which will operate between Fareham, Greyshott Avenue, Stubbington and Hill Head, customers will find buses between Stubbington and Fareham running every 30 minutes during the day.
Running between Highlands, Fareham, Asda, Cherque Farm, Lee-on-the-Solent and Gosport, Service 6 will operate every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday. On Sundays buses will run hourly between Fareham and Gosport only. The introduction of this route, along with the existing Service 4 and new Service 5/5A, will increase the frequency of buses to the Lee-on-the-Solent are from three to four an hour. The new Service 6 will also provide a direct link from Highlands to Asda, Lee-on-the-Solent, the War Memorial Hospital and Gosport, and will connect more effectively with the ferry service.
Operating between the Highlands Road area and Fareham, the new Service 6A will combine much of the existing Services 95 and 95A. It will run in the opposite direction to Service 6 and will help to maintain a 15 minute frequency of buses to and from the Highlands Road area
Operating between South Parade Pier, Southsea, the University of Portsmouth, the city centre, Lake Road, North End, Cosham, Crookhorn, Waterlooville and Wecock Farm, Service 7 will be the new number assigned to Service 40.
Buses will operate every 10 minutes during the day – Monday to Saturday – every 20 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes during the evening. Going from one bus every 15 minutes, to one every 10 minutes.
With the new Service 3 the two routes will offer one bus every five minutes between Cosham, North End and the city centre. Service 7C will also provide a link between South Downs College and Cosham, running every half an hour during the college day.
Serving The Hard, the city centre, Stamshaw, Cosham, Waterlooville, Cowplain, Horndean and Clanfield, the new Service 8 will operate every 15 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday and every 20 minutes on Sundays. In the evenings buses will run every 30 minutes between the Hard and Cosham, extending to Clanfield on an hourly basis.
A new Service 9/9A is being created to serve West End, Fareham, Bridgemary, Rowner, Alverstoke, Elson and Gosport. Buses will operate every 15 minutes during the day – Monday to Saturday – along core sections of the route, with buses running every 30 minutes on Sundays and during the evening. The changes mean that a new link between Alverstoke and Fareham is being created, and that the frequency of buses between Rowner and Fareham will improve, from one bus every 30 minutes at present, to one bus every 15 minutes from 18 November onwards.
Running between the Hard, the city centre, along the M275, to QA, Purbrook, Waterlooville, Denmead and Hambledon, the new Service X9 will provide a fast, frequent connection six days a week. Designed to appeal to commuters and those who want to get in and out of the city quickly, buses will operate every 30 minutes throughout the day Monday to Saturday.
Every other journey will be extended to serve Hambledon, giving residents there an hourly service. Service X9 won’t operate during the evenings or on Sundays.
Serving Fareham, Bridgemary, Rowner Road, Spring Garden Lane and Gosport buses on this service will operate on an hourly basis Monday to Saturday daytime. The route, which will run in addition to the Eclipse BRT service, which operates close by, is intended to complement the other bus routes in the area – specifically Services E1 and E2 – and give people a choice over which service they catch.
A new Service 11 is being created to serve Fareham, Royal Clarence Yard and Gosport. Operating via the A32, buses will operate hourly during the day Monday to Saturday. The route will work in conjunction with Service 10 to provide buses every 30 minutes between Gosport and the Brockhurst Roundabout.
Operating under contract to Portsmouth City Council this service will provide a link between Port Solent, Paulsgrove, QA, Cosham and Highbury. Buses on Service 12 will operate every 30 minutes throughout the day Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays.
Following the route of the existing Service 13/14 there will be fewer changes here for customers to get used to. Service 13 will continue to serve the city centre, Fratton, Milton, St Mary’s Hospital, while Service 14 will operate between The Hard, the city centre, Arundel Street, North End, Copnor Bridge and Baffins.
The frequency of buses will change slightly as both services will run every 30 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays from November 18. The change in frequency represents a slight reduction in service, from one bus every 20 minutes to one bus every 30 minutes, for people on Service 14.
Operating on Sundays only, under contract to Portsmouth City Council, Service 16 will serve The Hard, Old Portsmouth, Clarence Pier, South Parade Pier, Eastney and the Hayling Ferry hourly.
Buses will no longer serve Commercial Road South on this route, as the Service 16A does, but instead customers wishing to travel to that part of Portsmouth will need to change at The Hard to connect with services 1, 2 or 3.
Serving Fareham, the Highlands Road area, Funtley, Knowle and Wickham, Service 20 will be the new number assigned to Service 94/94A. Buses will follow a slightly revised route from the current Service 94/94A, calling at Knowle Village on all journeys before travelling on from Knowle to Wickham via the A32.
The frequency of buses will remain roughly the same, with buses running hourly throughout the day Monday to Saturday. One morning and afternoon journey will still be extended to serve Wickham School.
Serving Fareham, Newgate Lane, Stubbington and Hill Head, Service 21 will cover Service 33. It will operate during the off-peak hours, which are between 9.20am and 7.05pm Monday to Friday.
Serving Farlington, Drayton, Cosham and on an alternate basis either Medina Road or QA, Leominster Road and the Paulsgrove shops, this new service will provide a regular, half hourly service from Monday to Saturday along common sections of the route. On Sundays buses will only operate between Farlington and the Paulsgrove shops, running hourly throughout the day.
Following customer feedback First is amending Service 28, which operates between Fareham, Highlands, Whiteley and Locks Heath, and is extending the route to also serve Warsash. In doing this it has also included a loop around Church Road and has created some journeys that operate both earlier and later in the day. Overall the frequency of buses remains roughly the same; running every two hours during the day Monday to Saturday.