|Lower bus fares, free fares for small business Saturdays and reduced journey time by bus are just a flavour of what’s to come thanks to a funding boost to Portsmouth’s bus service.
Government funding to transform bus travel for Portsmouth residents has been confirmed. The city has been awarded £48 million to fund new tickets, reduced fares and make bus journey times shorter and more reliable. This supports the delivery of the National Bus Strategy designed to increase bus use and deliver a wide range of economic, health and social objectives.
This announcement comes just weeks after the government announced that Portsmouth and Hampshire would be awarded £6.5 million for zero emission buses, bringing the total funding to transform bus travel in Portsmouth, and the wider area, to £54.5 million.
In partnership with both First and Stagecoach, the funding will be invested in revolutionising bus travel in the city through a number of improvements that were informed by feedback from residents and businesses.
Residents’ top priority was the need for lower fares and with this funding the council plans to work with its partners to make tickets more affordable this year. A number of discounts will be introduced including reduced price tickets for young people up to the age of 19, a 90-minute hopper ticket for any passenger valid on any bus in the city in that time period, family tickets and cheaper tickets for evening travel. To help ensure buses are accessible to all there will be discounts for jobseekers and hard to reach groups as well.
The council will also promote bus use for all, whilst also supporting the city economy, by offering free travel on ‘Small Business Saturdays’ and ‘Free Fare Sundays’.
To ensure bus passengers get a best price guarantee, there are plans to develop a ‘tap on tap off’ bank card payment on all buses, similar to the London Underground. This is so passengers only pay for the journeys they make, and fares are capped at daily and weekly limits.
Another key priority for residents was improvements to bus service frequency. The plan is to increase evening bus service frequencies on core routes to every 20 minutes with last journeys at 2300 and at 0100 on Friday and Saturday evenings. As well as starting services earlier with journeys from 0430 on core routes with services running on Christmas Day for workers and those visiting family at home or in hospital.
The Bus Service Improvement Plan that was submitted to government, October last year, as a bid for funding will now form the basis for the wealth of improvements planned for public transport in the city over the next couple of years.
For more information on the plan visit https://travel.portsmouth.gov.uk/public-transport/