Improvements to rapid transit, walking and cycling in south east Hampshire to help fight climate change

The attendance of world leaders in Glasgow at the recent 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) shows the importance of making changes to behaviour to prevent climate change.

To help achieve this, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council and Isle of Wight Council, are working together to deliver improved bus services and improvements to walking and cycling areas along key corridors.

South East Hampshire Rapid Transit (SEHRT) aims to transform the way people travel between Portsmouth and surrounding towns. By enhancing existing public transport services through new and improved bus priority routes, South East Hampshire Rapid Transit will make travelling by bus an even more attractive option.

Delivering improvements to walking and cycling routes will ensure that these connections accessible for all ages and abilities. Switching even one journey a week to walking and cycling benefits health and wellbeing and creates less air pollution.

Developing a network of rapid transit routes to help get people to where they want to be by reliable and regular bus journeys which will connect with rail and ferry services will create an integrated transport system and make travel cleaner, greener, and safer for all.

A £11.6 million, 18-month project to lengthen the Eclipse rapid transit busway in Gosport has been completed by Hampshire County Council and is set to open for service in December 2021. The one-kilometre extension increases the reach of the existing busway from the Tichborne Way and Hutfield Link to Rowner Road. With this new extension, the busway is now 4.5km long and runs parallel to the A32 between north Gosport and Fareham – one of Hampshire’s most congested roads.

Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit is a partnership project between the County Council and First Bus. Completion of this latest section of busway marks a total investment to date of nearly £100 million in road and transport improvements in the Fareham and Gosport area, part funded by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, aimed at improving access to the Gosport Peninsula and the Solent Enterprise Zone (Daedalus).

In September 2020, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and Hampshire County Council received just under £56 million from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) to improve connectivity and increase productivity via better walking, cycling and public transport links.

The first phase of improvements in Portsmouth looks at improving roundabouts to make bus and bicycle travel quicker and easier and safer, and subsequent phases will look at improvements within Portsmouth city centre and walking and cycling routes in the south of the city. This funding will help Portsmouth and the wider region achieve the environmental goals set out by the government.

Councillor Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation at Portsmouth City Council, said “As the COP26 conference has shown, it is absolutely vital to make changes to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and help improve our environment. The improvements we’re making as part of the SEHRT programme will help make it easier for people to travel in more environmentally sustainable ways, which is just one of the ways we can lower carbon in the city.”

As part of the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Transforming Cities funding allocated by the Department of Transport, Hampshire County Council will deliver local transport schemes, totalling £19.6 million, in the Havant, Fareham and Gosport areas.

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “This is a significant level of transport funding that will help us provide the infrastructure to transform people’s journeys whether they cycle, walk or travel by bus. It also supports our commitment to tackling climate change, contributing to our target to be carbon neutral by 2050 and resilient to a 2 degrees rise in temperature.

“We want to improve facilities and networks for bus users as well as encourage more people to leave the car at home and use public transport, cycle, or walk, for their local journeys.”

Councillor Phil Jordan, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure at the Isle of Wight Council, said: “Facilities and connectivity for cyclists, pedestrians, bus and rail users as well as Wightlink FastCat passengers are all to be improved, with the transport hub reorganised to provide a more pedestrian prioritised area with additional areas of public use.

“As well as providing better connectivity, promoting active travel and encouraging sustainable travel, the project also aims to make the interchange a more pleasant public space for both those arriving at the gateway to Ryde and those wanting to enjoy the area as a destination in itself.”

More details about the progress of SEHRT schemes and progress can be found at www.sehrt.org.uk.

Information about the Transforming Cities Fund Schemes to be delivered by Hampshire County Council can be found at www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/tcfportsmouth

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