Councillor Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth's Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, is working with First Solent to keep First Bus number 15 service going after it was extended in September to serve those travelling to and from Hayling Island.
Portsmouth bus operator First Solent extended the 15 service after discussions with Portsmouth City Council and Havant Borough Council. Since September the number 15 route has included Ferry Point in Eastney and was provided by First Solent as a six-month trial.
The service, which First operates on a commercial basis without council subsidy, currently averages just eight passengers a week. With such a low take up now puts the service at risk
Cllr Stagg met with representatives from First Solent this week to discuss the future of the service. Cllr Stagg said: "I agree there has been a low take up of this service, but there is a need nonetheless. Not everyone travels by car, and those who do should have more sustainable travel options available to them. We are working hard in Portsmouth to reduce congestion and improve air quality, and providing a bus service which replaces the need to drive into the city is one way of achieving this.
If the service isn't used, we will lose it. After speaking with residents, I have asked First Solent to consider extending the trial to include the Easter holiday period, when I suspect take up will improve."
Simon Goff, interim managing director First Solent said: “We’ve extended the route of Service 15 to include the Hayling ferry landing stop and give the scheme a chance. Earlier this week we met with the council to evaluate the trial so far and discuss the future of the Service. We noted that Havant Borough Council will not extend funding for a bus service on Hayling and so this will have a negative impact on the number of users. We agreed that in order for the extension of service 15 to be a success it was vital that a bus service should exist at both sides of the ferry operation. So far, passenger numbers, even with the bus on the island, have been very disappointing. However, we want to give it every chance of success and will work with the council to try and make it work but we will need to see a rapid increase in patronage otherwise the extension will, as it is now, be unviable without support.”
The linked service operates hourly Monday to Friday. Buses depart Eastney Point (Portsmouth side) on the hour between 7am and 4pm, with the last buses departing at 5.14pm and 6.14pm. For timetable click here