The latest data from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that buses in Portsmouth have seen a 22.3% increase in passengers over the course of the last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how people work, shop and travel. Bus usage dramatically reduced as a result, and the bus industry is still recovering today. The latest figures from the DfT show how bus travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels across England, putting Portsmouth in fourth place overall, and show the city to be the best improving in the UK.

Since January 2022, Portsmouth City Council has been investing in the city’s bus network with the Portsmouth Bus Service Improvement Plan, a £48.3 million DfT funded grant to transform bus services in the city. Key improvements include a host of ticketing deals designed to make using the bus more affordable and accessible, fare free schemes to encourage people to try out the bus, and service improvements including two 24/7 bus routes and more buses at evenings and weekends, when people need them the most. The incentives are designed to make bus travel more attractive and encourage passengers to use the bus.

Plans are also underway for a host of infrastructure improvements designed to make bus journeys in Portsmouth faster and more convenient.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said:

“Whilst the figures show that Portsmouth is leading the way as the number one city in England for bringing bus passengers back to the bus, we aim to do even more to increase passenger numbers to above pre-pandemic levels. We will do this by continuing to make improvements that make it even easier and more affordable to catch the bus.”

James Eustace, Commercial Director at First Solent, added:

“It’s such positive news to see the rise in bus passenger numbers in Portsmouth. Working in partnership with the Council we’re proud to play our part in delivering bus services for the people of Portsmouth.”

James O’Neill, Commercial Director for Stagecoach South said:

“We’re pleased to see Portsmouth City Council invest further in sustainable public transport, making it easier than ever to travel by bus. With the cost-of-living impacting people’s lives, these initiatives encourage affordable and accessible travel options, helping people realise the benefits of using buses more often.”

“Keeping local people connected is at the core of what we do, and we’re proud to see such success through improved ticket offers, new infrastructure and enhanced services. We look forward to welcoming new and returning customers on our services.”

Find out more about public transport in Portsmouth: travel.portsmouth.gov.uk/public-transport/

Find out more about Portsmouth Bus Service Improvement Plan

The Portsmouth Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) is Portsmouth’s visionary delivery scheme aligned with the government’s National Bus Strategy and aims to dramatically improve bus services in Portsmouth and to encourage passengers back to the bus. This programme is managed by an enhanced partnership between local bus companies Stagecoach South, First Solent and Portsmouth City Council. With a £48 million grant from the Department for Transport (DfT) the Portsmouth BSIP aims to increase bus usage in Portsmouth by engaging with the local community, and transforming the bus network in the city, so that it is faster, more reliable, and more affordable. The Portsmouth BSIP has already funded early morning travel, and later night services, tap on tap off technology, fare free weekends to encourage residents to try the bus, Christmas Day bus services and much more, with even more exciting developments planned for 2024/2025. More information can be found on our website: https://travel.portsmouth.gov.uk/public-transport/