Cllr Lynne Stagg (front centre) and Keith Willcox, Assistant Director - Transport, Hampshire County Council (third from right) pictured at the Hard Interchange with representatives from the Department for Transport during a site visit last month.
Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council welcomed news they are set to receive a £4 million funding boost to improve public transport in Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, Waterlooville, Havant and the Isle of Wight.
The Transport Secretary's announcement is the next step in the £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund, launched as part of the Industrial Strategy at the Autumn Budget 2017 to increase access to jobs and prosperity by addressing weaknesses in city transport systems.
The Portsmouth and South East Hampshire City Region bid centres on a mass transit network which links communities in Gosport, Fareham, Havant, Waterlooville and Isle of Wight with Portsmouth. The ambitious scheme will enable significant infrastructure improvements for public transport, fleet upgrades and a better customer experience for residents, commuters and visitors.
From the total £1.28bn pot ring-fenced to the 12 shortlisted cities, of which Portsmouth is one, the Department for Transport released an initial fund for 'quick wins'.
Three major junctions in Portsmouth will be upgraded to maximise the traffic flow and to give buses priority, improving bus reliability. The junctions identified for improvement are: Eastern Road with Havant Road; Copnor Road with Burrfields Road, and the Fratton Road/Lake Road/St Mary's Road junction.
The funding will also enable the upgrade of bus stops in Portsmouth and South Hampshire which don't currently have 'real time information' displayed.
Cllr Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth's Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, said. "These are exciting times for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire. A mass transit system requires a huge amount of work. This funding means we can start preparing for what will be a significant step change in public transport.
Like many local authorities across the UK, we must improve air quality in Portsmouth. Having an efficient, effective and affordable public transport travel system is essential if we want to encourage more people out of their cars."
The bid also includes extending the existing Eclipse bus route to better serve Gosport residents.
Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said: "Following feedback from the local community, we’ve been investigating the potential for an alternative design for the next phase of the Eclipse BRT extension in Gosport which would retain Rowner Bridge, and so I’m delighted that this will be one of the first things we will be able to do with the initial tranche of funding from our successful Transforming Cities Bid with Portsmouth City Council.
We have made a commitment to the people of South Hampshire to improve traffic and travel in the wider area. The benefits of the capital investment to improve transport for all those who commute every day into Portsmouth will have a huge and positive impact on quality of life."
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "To show that Britain is open for business, it’s vital that our port cities are given the tools they need to enable global trade with the UK.
These projects will help businesses and residents to thrive by transforming the city’s transport systems and making it easier for people to get around – whether to work, school or the local shops."
Work continues on the development of a bid to the larger pot of funding, due for submission in June 2019.
Work in both Portsmouth and Gosport will start immediately.