People in Portsmouth and Fareham were given a sneak preview of new electric buses this week.

The fleet of 62 brand new, zero emission buses will be taking to key bus routes across Portsmouth, Fareham, and Gosport from April.

The introduction of electric buses is a first for the region, thanks to a partnership with Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council, which secured £12.7m from government funding*, alongside an additional investment of £15.9m from First Bus South, the operator of First Solent buses.

At the events, held in Portsmouth Guildhall and Fareham Town Centre this week, locals were given the opportunity to look around the bus, talk to local Councillors and the First Solent team, and see for themselves the future of bus travel in the region.

Geoff, a former First Bus driver in Southampton travelled to both events to see the buses, and was impressed with the interior and how quiet it was. In Portsmouth, Harry was amazed by the cameras instead of wing mirrors, which provide drivers with clearer vision, no matter what the weather.

The state-of-the-art, 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)
  • X5 (Gosport – Fareham – Southampton)
  • The Eclipse rapid transit corridor from Fareham to Gosport for the ferry connection to Portsmouth

The zero emission buses will replace part of First Bus South’s current diesel fleet, and support Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council’s aims for cleaner, greener travel and better air quality. Overall, it is expected that each electric bus will save up to 60 tonnes of tailpipe emissions per year.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, Portsmouth City Council said: “These are thrilling times with 62 electric buses set to take passengers around Portsmouth and beyond. We have made it clear in our transport strategy, that we want to reduce emissions and get more people back on the bus and our new electric bus fleet will help us to do just that. We also have two 24 hours bus routes in the city, as well as buses running earlier in the morning and more frequently in the evenings and at weekends – now is definitely the time to give the bus a try.”

Simon Goff, First Bus South Managing Director, said: “Bringing electric buses to Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport is a vital project that will improve travel for our customers. These are exciting times ahead for public transport across the Solent area. We’re proud to be part of this extremely important partnership with Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “It’s fantastic that a brand-new electric bus fleet will soon be in operation across south Hampshire. The area where these new electric buses will be operating has two Clean Air Zones, so the arrival of the fleet is great news for the environment and public health – helping to improve air quality, cut pollution and reduce carbon emissions. Travel by bus also makes economic sense, especially with the £2 flat fare for a single journey in operation until the end of this year, so I’d encourage those who don’t already use the bus to give it a try.”

Last 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.