First launches three new Portsmouth bus services with £80,000 council subsidy

Cllr Lynne Stagg, First Solent bus driver Kerry Campbell Dodd and Simon Goff, interim managing director for First Solent Portsmouth, next to the number 12 bus. Picture: Sarah Standing (170119-6183)
Cllr Lynne Stagg, First Solent bus driver Kerry Campbell Dodd and Simon Goff, interim managing director for First Solent Portsmouth, next to the number 12 bus. Picture: Sarah Standing (170119-6183)
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THREE new bus services have been launched thanks to an £80,000 subsidy injection from Portsmouth City Council.

The routes will be run by First Solent for the next year and follow ‘horrendous' backlash after a number of services were withdrawn because of low demand in September. 

Among them was the number 1 – now replaced by the number 6 – which is set to operate between The Hard, Old Portsmouth and Southsea from Monday to Saturday. 

Meanwhile a new number 12 service will run from Tipner to Fratton Way and the existing 13 between Baffins and central Portsmouth will be extended to run on Sundays. 

Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for traffic and transport, Lynne Stagg, said: ‘It's a catch 22 with the buses at the moment.

‘People aren’t using them so therefore part of or whole services are taken off – then fewer people use the buses because the ones they had are gone.

‘We are hoping here numbers will go up so these can become normal services because we are trying to get as many people out of cars and on to buses as we can.’ 

The introduction of the 12 service comes after the 17, which previously ran a similar route, was amended after racking up poor passenger figures

According to Cllr Stagg, calculations have showed the 17 previously carried an average of two passengers across about 14,000 journeys. 

She has now called for a ‘symbiotic relationship' between city buses and their users – and First said it ‘sees itself as part of the solution’. 

Simon Goff, interim managing director for First Solent, said: ‘We’ve introduced these services because the council has been good enough to recognise from a commercial point of view it has been very difficult to make routes in these areas stack up.

‘Whenever you make changes or withdraw or curtail services you are going to get backlash – you are never going to please everybody. 

‘But the fact of the matter is we are a private company that needs to make a profit and unfortunately where we have services that aren’t able to cover their costs we have to rethink where we deploy that resource, so it benefits the biggest number of people it possibly can.’ 

Mr Goff said it is hoped the trio of services will make a ‘huge difference’ to bus users’ lives and will become fully-fledged commercial services subject to success over the next year. All three services are running now and full timetables are available to view at firstgroup.com/portsmouth-fareham-gosport