• First Bus South, operator of First Solent, has started construction works to electrify Hoeford bus depot
  • The newly electric depot will support 62 new EV buses for Portsmouth and Hampshire
  • EV Buses and electric infrastructure is a jointly funded initiative with Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council

Ground-breaking work is underway to transform local bus operator First Solent’s Hoeford depot in Fareham, ready to operate 62 brand new electric single-deck buses from March 2024.

Once complete, the works to create electric vehicle charging infrastructure at Hoeford bus depot will enable the fleet of 62 electric buses to run across Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport, bringing cleaner, greener travel for local people.

The project, a first for the region, has been made possible through partnership with Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council. By working together, an investment of £12.7m has been secured from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) government funding, alongside significant capital investment of around £15.9m from First Bus South – which operates First Solent – to electrify bus services from the Hoeford depot.

The introduction of the state-of-the-art electric buses to First Solent’s fleet is a first for bus travel in the Solent area and leads the way in reducing emissions and improving air quality. The electric buses will replace part of First Bus South’s current diesel fleet and overall, it is expected that each electric bus will save up to 60 tonnes of tailpipe emissions per year.

The British made electric buses will provide smoother, quieter bus journeys for passengers and will run on routes across the Solent area, including the X4 (The Hard – Fareham – Southampton) and the X5 (Gosport – Fareham – Southampton) and the Eclipse rapid transit corridor from Fareham to Gosport for the ferry connection to Portsmouth.

In support of the project, representatives from Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council attended a launch at Hoeford depot to mark the start of infrastructure works.

Simon Goff, First Bus South Managing Director, said: “Bringing electric buses to Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport is a vital project that will not only improve travel for our customers, but marks a major transformation of our Hoeford depot and its functions.

“This is just the start, and there are exciting times ahead for public transport across the Solent area. I am proud to be part of this extremely important partnership with Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council, as we support their plans for better air quality and cleaner, greener travel.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “The area where these new electric buses will be operating has two Clean Air Zones.  These are locations where poor air quality is damaging to public health, so this investment marks a major milestone in cleaning up our whole transport system.  If you don’t already use the bus, I encourage you to try, benefitting from the £2 flat fare.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, Portsmouth City Council said:  “This is a thrilling moment in our journey to bring electric buses to Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. The partnership with First and Hampshire County Council has enabled us to take huge steps in the right direction in supporting the switch to sustainable methods of travel. We have a vision to transform bus services in our city and working together, we are able to achieve that. I look forward to seeing the development of the Hoeford site, and the arrival of electric buses early next year.”

The electrification of Hoeford depot is the next step in the company’s mission 2035 pledge to operate a fully zero emission fleet. In March this year, First Bus South also announced plans for a brand-new state-of-the-art depot in Hilsea, which when complete, will have the capacity to operate a fully electric fleet of up to 90 vehicles.