PLANS to bring a park-and-ride service to Southsea have finally been given the green light.
Portsmouth City Council has agreed buses will run every hour to the shopping destination and the seafront on a six-month trial basis, after months of speculation.
The Southsea route will start from the park-and-ride transport hub off the M275 and will stop at Bishop Crispian Way, High Street in Old Portsmouth, Osborne Road and South Parade Pier.
The council is expected to fork out £91,666 to run the service – though costs could rise to £147,666 when taking into account money lost through pay-and-display car parking.
Councillor Ken Ellcome, Tory cabinet member for traffic and transport, approved the plans.
He said: ‘Will it be permanent? That depends on whether the residents and visitors of Southsea use it.
‘It’s something we (the Conservatives) said in our campaign literature that we would do, and I see this decision as honouring that commitment.
‘I know it has taken a while to work it up, but we have been able to make it happen.’
But Lib Dem councillor Michael Andrewes challenged Cllr Ellcome to guarantee there would be a permanent service as it was something the Tories promised in election leaflets.
‘It’s very, very feeble at the moment,’ he said.
Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders praised the success of the park and ride since it was introduced last April.
The scheme currently serves the city centre and The Hard for visitors going to Gunwharf Quays and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
‘I am delighted park and ride has gone better than expected,’ Cllr Sanders said.
But he raised concerns that the council does not yet know where funds will come from – though Cllr Ellcome said it would likely be taken from the parking reserve. The Southsea scheme will be able to start once it has been advertised for 56 days with the traffic commissioner.
There have also been requests for park-and-ride to serve The Kings Theatre, Fratton Park, Queen Alexandra Hospital and Portsmouth Grammar School – though funding is not yet available.
This week the council announced it aims to allow all vehicles into the bus lane on Mile End Road to ease congestion.