Transforming Portsmouth’s bus service

Bus travel is set to be transformed over the coming years with greener, better-connected and more accessible services for all.

Portsmouth City Council has reacted quickly to the launch of the government’s new national bus strategy by producing Portsmouth’s ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan. The plan sets out the improvements that are needed to transform bus services in Portsmouth as well as being a bidding document that will support the council in accessing part of the £3 billion funding, available to local authorities, through the government’s national bus strategy.

The Bus Service Improvement Plan has been approved at Cabinet today and will be submitted to the Department for Transport by 31 October 2021. The plan has been developed collaboratively with First Bus and Stagecoach, whilst also ensuring local priorities for the bus service are considered through engagement with the local community. This has included a city-wide survey with over 1,100 responses, engagement with user groups and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders.

The plan aims to create more frequent and reliable services on a better fleet of buses, improve the integration with other ways of travelling, develop ticketing options to make travel simpler, and provide more accessible information for passengers and those considering taking the bus. Examples of the changes needed include buses running from 4.30am to 11pm to benefit shift workers, buses operating until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays to support the night-time economy, and additional services operating in parts of the city that don’t currently have a bus service or have a poor one.

Improvements will be measured by targets for journey times, reliability of services, passenger numbers and passenger satisfaction. The document will be reviewed annually to ensure it reflects the changing needs of the city as the council strives to achieve its vision to become a greener city with excellent air quality and easy travel.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said “The Bus Service Improvement Plan is part of a much bigger picture for Portsmouth, where we need to create cleaner air and provide people in our city with more travel options to help reduce the reliance on cars. As part of this wider picture this plan is essential to create a better bus service in Portsmouth, to get more people on the bus and provide a better service for those that already use it. I hope the government will provide us with the funding we need to transform bus travel in our city.”