A trial bus service operating between The Hard and The Hayling Ferry will begin on Sunday 30 August, providing a vital transport link for commuters, shoppers, visitors and onward travellers.
Portsmouth City Council is providing funding for the new '25' First Solent service.
The new experimental route enables passengers to travel, providing a direct link between Gunwharf Quays, Southsea Shops and Albert/Highland Road. Other prominent areas featured along the route include The Hotwalls, Portsmouth Cathedral and Bransbury Park.
The service, which will operate between The Hard Interchange and Eastney via Old Portsmouth, Southsea shops and Devonshire Avenue, will allow passengers to get on and off in commercial, residential and leisure areas along the way. Passengers visiting shopping areas can Go shop, Go eat, Go safe and Go local with high street brands plus a range of independent outlets.
The council successfully bid for funding from the Better Deal for Bus Users which has been allocated to local authorities to improve current services and restore lost services where most needed. This funding will be used to support the new service and the remainder of the money will be funded by existing council budgets.
The new service replaces and extends the previous First Solent routes 6, 15 and 16, which were taken out of operation during lockdown restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said "I am delighted that we have been able to provide funding from the Better Deal for Bus Users to support this essential service, working closely with our transport partners at First Solent.
"The new no 25 will provide an important link between our transport hubs at The Hard Interchange, Portsmouth Harbour railway station and the Hayling Ferry as well as providing an essential service for commuting, shopping and leisure activities. I hope we will see a positive take up of the service which residents and visitors have been missing during past months.
"Passenger support is vital to the success of this service so that we can continue the route past March when funding ceases."
Marc Reddy, Managing Director at First Solent, said “The new Service 25, provided by First Solent in partnership with Portsmouth City Council, will provide customers with new travel opportunities to many destinations in the city. Portsmouth City Council's unabated support for improved public transport continues to be exemplary by putting the better bus funding to good use for people living and working in Portsmouth.
“Bus users can travel in the knowledge that First Solent has worked tirelessly since the start of this pandemic to make sure bus travel is absolutely safe. We’re proud that our industry-leading coronavirus safety measures have been recognised through Visit England’s ‘We’re Good to Go’ kitemark scheme.”
The 25 service will run every 45 minutes off-peak between Monday and Saturday and every 90 minutes during peak hours and on Sundays and bank holidays. Customers can find the full timetable on the First Solent website www.firstgroup.com/portsmouth. A review of the no 25 service will take place in March 2021 once the trial period is complete.
Passengers travelling by public transport are reminded to wear a face covering whilst in the vehicle and at the station, and should follow government guidance by regularly sanitising hands and maintaining a social distance of 2 metres.
Passengers who are exempt from wearing a face covering are advised to download an optional print-ready journey assistance card from the First Solent website www.firstgroup.com. They can also visit the government's website www.gov.uk, Asthma UK www.asthma.org.uk or the British Lung Foundation www.blf.org.uk to download exemption images for use on a mobile device.
Improving transport options for a more sustainable future is part of our ambitious regeneration vision to bring even more growth and prosperity to our proud and historic city. You can find out more about all our regeneration plans and projects at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/regeneration