MOMENTUM is gathering in a campaign to bring back a bus route to give easier access to the revived Hayling Ferry.
An online petition to extend the First bus 15 service hit the 1,000 signature milestone on Tuesday.
And First is talking to Portsmouth City Council about the future of the service, saying it could reinstate the extension if the authority subsidises it once more. But it added that current ferry passenger numbers would not be a sole reason to re-extend the service.
The bus stopped going to the ferry’s drop-off point in Eastney earlier this year after Portsmouth City Council cut its funding.
The petition set up by the Lib Dems has reached over 1,000 signatures since it was launched on August 13.
Eastney Lib Dem councillor Matthew Winnington, who is leading the petition, claimed that First general manager Dervla McKay assured him the bus service would resume upon the ferry’s return.
Cllr Winnington said: ‘It’s fantastic that we’ve reached past the 1,000 milestone.
‘It’s so positive that so many people, not just ferry users, have been supporting this petition. It’s testament to how popular the ferry is and how important it is to people to bring this vital route back.
‘This is a viable route for First and would be a profitable business opportunity for them.
‘It would also ensure the ferry is sustainable as it would make it more accessible for users.’
The Pride of Hayling ferry returned last month following a campaign by the community backed by billionaire Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
There is a walk of just over half a mile from where the bus currently terminates to the ferry.
This has raised concerns over the future of the ferry because of the lack of accessibility.
A temporary bus route was set up on both sides of the ferry point for Victorious Festival over the August bank holiday weekend, which proved popular with passengers.
First Solent general manager Dervla McKay said: ‘We are absolutely open to extending the service 15 to include the ferry, but this has to based on a viable business case to ensure sustainability.’