Customers wanting to travel on public transport between Portsmouth and Hayling Island will be able to do so from Monday 24th September.
Hayling Ferry, First Solent, and Portsmouth and Havant Councils have agreed to launch an integrated public transport service which connects bus services with the Hayling Ferry as part of a six-month trial.
First Solent will extend their service 15 to the ferry landing area in Eastney, where customers can board the Hayling ferry and make the 300-metre boat trip to Hayling Island. A community bus can transport passengers across the island if required.
The linked service will initially operate hourly Monday to Friday. Buses will depart Eastney Point (Portsmouth side) on the hour between 7:00am and 4:00pm, with the last buses departing at 5:14pm and 6:14pm. The service may be extended to cover Saturdays and holiday periods depending on initial take-up.
The Hayling Ferry service, from Ferry Point on Hayling Island to Eastney Point in Portsmouth was launched in 2016. A long-awaited integrated transport plan came a step closer in July when Havant councillors approved funding for a community bus service to the ferry. Providing this bus link was crucial in order for First to take the commercial risk of extending the bus service to the ferry point on the Portsmouth side.
Marc Reddy, Managing Director First Solent, said: "It’s great that we’re now in a position to offer a bus connection to the Eastney Ferry landing area, which will make it much easier for people to travel to and from Hayling Island using public transport.
"We hope as many people as possible will use the service during the coming trial period."
Councillor Tim Pike, Deputy Leader of Havant Borough Council and Cabinet lead for Finance and Regeneration, said: "Local Councillors have worked with community activists to achieve the much needed bus link between the Hayling Ferry and residential and tourist areas on the island.
"Havant Borough Council hopes that many people will choose this route to Portsmouth to reduce congestion on the A3023 and reduce polluting car journeys. The future of bus services depend on good patronage, and I particularly encourage residents who commute to Portsmouth to look at using this option for their journeys. If this trial is successful, we will look to extend the service to weekends to benefit tourism in 2019."
Colin Hill, Hayling Ferry’s managing skipper, said: "We are looking forward to the buses connecting with the ferry on both sides to make a total transport connection between Hayling Island and Portsmouth. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point but we are now in a position to offer this service, which I hope will benefit many."
The parties have agreed to run the service for a period of six months, at which point it will be evaluated. If the service proves to be viable both commercially and in terms of punctuality, it will be extended by another six months in order to determine the long-term future of the service.