ePetition details

Free buses for Portsmouth

We the undersigned petition the council to (1000 characters): We the undersigned demand that Portsmouth City Council makes bus travel free in Portsmouth. The cross-party science and technology parliamentary select committee states: “In the long term, widespread personal vehicle ownership therefore does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation.” If this is the case we need to offer effective alternatives. Such as: improved cycle infrastructure, extended park and ride schemes and a free bus service. If bus travel is to replace car transport it needs significant improvement and investment. Portsmouth needs an extended fully integrated, convenient bus service. If the council is serious about calling a “Climate Emergency” and reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2030 radical action must now be taken.

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There are also important air quality issues which will be well supported by this petition

This ePetition ran from 06/09/2019 to 29/11/2019 and has now finished.

30 people signed this ePetition.

Council response

As you may know,most bus services are provided commercially with investment in vehicles,staff and running costs paid for by the fares collected. If no fares were collected the costs would have to be met by the council tax payer.This would be significantly more than the £4million a year that the City Council provides for older and disabled persons each year, which is largely for off peak travel though the City Council recently made travel for disabled users available at all times.The City Council is aware that the cost of travel is not enough in itself to attract car users. Evidence elsewhere in the country has shown that very low fares do increase bus travel but that this is from existing users travelling more and is not enough to get car users to switch to the bus.We have shown locally with the Star bus priority corridor and the Eclipse busway that high quality buses running frequently with reliable journey times and good infrastructure and information provision can increase bus use and offer a realistic alternative to the car.The Eclipse,for example has seen a 65% increase in passengers with 20% of passengers switching from the car. Bus use in Portsmouth overall is rising and has reached a 17 year high.You will be aware that Portsmouth City Council introduced the Park and Ride at Tipner in 2014 to help remove cars from the roads in the city. Last year this catered for 479,000 passenger trips taking 117,000 car journeys off the city's roads. The City Council is examining options to increase the use and capacity of this facility which continues to require subsidy from the Council.In 2017, the award-winning new Hard Interchange opened now providing stylish modern facilities for 9,000,000 passengers a year. Good infrastructure and information are an essential part of making passengers feel safe and confident when travelling. All 600 bus stops in the city are being fitted with QR code plates which provide real time information for users of smartphones - this is in addition for SMS codes for users of older phones and printed timetable displays at key stops. Real time displays are already provided at the busiest stops in the city and we are in the process of equipping 119 further stops with these displays.Contactless bus travel was introduced in Portsmouth and the surrounding area in 2017, ahead of cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.This makes travel easier and journeys quicker by reducing stop delays so benefitting congestion and air quality.With regard to air quality,we have used Government funding to upgrade 105 buses in the city to the latest Euro 6 engine standard to reduce harmful emissions. For those who still have a car we have recently fitted some 36 residential electric vehicle charging points in the last year.Where bus services are not provided commercially, the City Council funds five routes which would not otherwise run to ensure that those communities remain connected and residents stay active.We recognise the importance of a convenient, integrated bus service to the life of the city. The five busiest bus routes in Portsmouth run every 10 minutes with even greater frequencies on common sections. The Portsmouth Solent Go smartcard allows travel on buses of both operators.Portsmouth City Council is ambitious to build on these successes for the vitality of the city and the future of its communities. With this in mind, the City Council has submitted, with local authority and commercial partners, a bid to the Department for Transport's Transforming Cities Fund to support the implementation of a bus rapid transit network across the area. This will build on the achievements of the Star and the Eclipse corridors.If successful it will offer high quality vehicles and modern ticket and information systems, which will be complemented by improved stops and interchanges with route infrastructure to offer shorter, more reliable journeys.Active travel measures to make walking and cycling more attractive are integral to the bid.