Number 11 bus service on A32 petition
Response from Hampshire County Council, February 2014
Thank you for your letter and petition received on 8 January 2014 regarding the frequency of the First bus service 11 that operates between Gosport and Fareham via the A32.
The majority of bus services, over 70% across Hampshire, are planned and operated on a commercial basis by the bus companies and are not financially supported or under the control of the County Council. During the past two years, First has altered and developed its network of commercial bus services across Gosport and Fareham on a number of occasions, coinciding with the opening of the Bus Rapid Transit route and the subsequent growing patronage on the Eclipse routes E1/E2 that use it.
Until now, Service 11 (and previously Service 83) along the A32 has operated as a commercial route, without County Council subsidy.
It was First’s decision to reduce the frequency of Service 11 from hourly to two-hourly from 6 October 2013, indicating that they could no longer run the previous service level at a profit. At the same time, the bus company advised the County Council that it was unlikely that they would be able to run the service at all from January 2014.
As the County Council was tendering its subsidised bus services in the area, a tender was included for a two-hourly timetable on Service 11. This comprises six journeys each way on Mondays to Saturdays and including a circular loop via Alverstoke as a partial replacement for Service 9 journeys which First have rerouted away from that area.
I approved the award of this tender at my Decision Day on 5 November 2013 at an annual cost to the County Council of £45,429 and a contract was awarded to First from 26 January 2014. In approving the award of tenders at that meeting, I took into account comments received from residents in response to the commercial changes made by the bus company during 2012 and 2013.
As you are probably aware, the County Councils’ budgets continue to come under considerable pressure as a result of reductions in government funding. Against this background the present timetable that I have intervened to fund represents the best that can be achieved for the finite budget that is available. While still two-hourly, the introduction of an additional journey each way now provides better coverage at morning and afternoon peak times.
I note the importance which residents have placed on the reliable operation of bus services, particularly where frequencies are lower. Now that the service is under the County Council’s control we will be able to monitor this, together with usage levels to ensure that value for money is being delivered.
Councillor Seán Woodward
Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment