CUTS to Portsmouth bus services are not acceptable, councillors have said.
At yesterday’s full council meeting councillors from all parties were united in their frustration at recent losses to bus routes that have affected residents across the city.
As part of a motion put forward by Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs he criticised the decision by company First Bus to reduce services on the number 15 route and the axing of the number 1 bus between Old Portsmouth and Southsea.
He said: ‘We’ve talked about some major issues today – relationships with China, naval bases, Universal Credit. And in some ways talking about bus changes seems quite small in comparison. But it is actually very important.
‘I’ve had people speak to me in my ward regarding some of the changes there have been.
‘I think that it’s not just me that has concerns about route changes, other councillors will know about changes that affect their areas.’
Cllr Stubbs called for the council’s head of transport, Cllr Lynne Stagg, to take his concerns to First Bus and was met with agreement from his peers.
Both Cllr Leo Madden and Cllr Darren Sanders offered an amendment to the notion that was accepted to include also considering the number 17 bus, that used to run from Tipner and Stamshaw, and the 13 and 14 that were used by residents of Baffins, Milton and Fratton.
Cllr Madden added: ‘I can’t leave the house without people talking to me about the number 17 bus. I have people who are crying. It was heartless of First Bus to do what they did.’
Southsea resident Chris Attwell also raised the problem as a deputation. ‘ This is an important issue,’ he said.
‘The changes made to the bus network in Portsmouth is having a great impact for the people in and around the city .
‘It has forced some people back into their cars. They jump in their cars rather than using the buses now.’
But Cllr Stagg explained that she had already been in talks with First Bus. She said: ‘I share everyone’s concerns. I contacted the head of First Bus straight away and was given information that there were not enough passengers.
‘On the number 17, for example, they had 14,000 passengers a year which is 50 a day. That makes it two passengers an hour.
‘To subsidise the 17 bus for a year would cost £150,000. There isn’t that much money in the transport budget.’
Her peer, Cllr Jason Fazackarley , suggested a different approach could be needed. ‘ We have already done what this motion asks,’ he said.
‘We have spoken to First Bus and they won’t budge. It comes down to the fact that if we want these bus services we have to pay up.
‘ People are in total and utter distress. This needs to go further than a motion. We need to look at something more long term.
‘For example, have we got the option available to create our own service?’
The motion was passed unanimously and will therefore be looked at again by the head of transport, Cllr Stagg.