Woman campaigns for First to return service to Portchester

CHANGE BACK A campaign has been started to get First Bus to restore a service
CHANGE BACK A campaign has been started to get First Bus to restore a service

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A WOMAN has spoken of her ambition to start a campaign to return a bus service cancelled by First.

Rosemary Peake, from Lancaster Close, Portchester wants to lobby Hampshire County Council to fund the return of the service, which used to run all the way along Dore Avenue.

Rosemary said: ‘A year ago we had a reliable bus service, but since then nothing.’

The service was cancelled by First in June as the company changed its schedules and services.

The bus now turns off Dore Avenue at Linden Lea, meaning it does not go past the crematorium.

Portsmouth City Council withdrew its funding from the route earlier this year and First said low passenger numbers mean it is not commercially viable.

Rosemary said: ‘They are saying that there are not enough people using it, but if we had a reasonable bus service then people would use it. It’s common sense.’

Rosemary said that residents are angry the new service – the number 22 – does not offer a direct route from north Portchester to Fareham. This means people wishing to travel into Fareham have to change in Portchester Precinct, or alternatively shop in Paulsgrove or Cosham.

First has also stated its intention to declare the existing number 22 as not commercially viable in January. This means that the county council needs to produce a tender document so other bus companies can bid on it –but if none came forward, there would be no services.

These documents are being put together by the county council. The council will take into consideration what subsidies to allocate to routes.

Cllr Peter Davies of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘Campaigning now is exactly the right thing to do. What people should be doing is lobbying their county councillor. I will be talking to Sean Woodward, the county’s council’s executive member for transport, to say that these routes are socially viable and worth keeping, not just commercially viable.

‘This route meets the criteria for some kind of service although the problem is it is mainly used by concessionary pass holders making it not so profitable for First.’

Rosemary said she would like to hear from others who have been affected by the changes. She said that she needs help with running her campaign online and would like to hear from somebody with computer skills to help.

Rosemary can be contacted on 01329 289380.