Hampshire County Council has stepped in to ensure that the residents of Hill Head are not left stranded without a bus service, after the bus operator First Group decided to stop running services between Hill Head and Fareham as they were no longer commercially viable.
A decision was made yesterday (10 December 2013) to award a tender for a bus between Hill Head and Fareham, to replace key elements of the 5A, 6 and 21 services following the decision by the bus operator to withdraw these services.
On making his decision, Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: "Local bus routes are essential for residents to be able to access work, shops, college and health centres, therefore I am pleased that we have been able to review our support for buses in the area to ensure that a service is retained.
"However, the County Council has limited resources to support public transport services, and it is essential that the local community make full use of the service. I am happy to ask the Council tax payer to support the service for a few months to give the local community a chance to show the value of the local bus service by using it more, but it is simply not possible for the County Council to step in every time a commercial service is stopped because low passenger numbers make it uneconomic to run. Therefore, I hope we will see an increase in passenger numbers, and the service return to commercial viability. I have asked for a review of the service in six months time, to ensure that the service is being well used, and that the subsidy represents good value for money.
"The new bus route will cover the existing 5A and 21 bus areas and although the service will be slightly reduced during off peak hours when it is being used by fewer people, I believe this represents a generous settlement from the Council tax payers of Hampshire and it is now up to the local community to use the buses and make the routes work commercially again."