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Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit Network launched
Publication date: 25 April 2012
Author: Hampshire County Council
Phase one of the new Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) busway, which connects Fareham and Gosport, will be officially launched today (Wednesday 25 April).
Serving both residential and business areas in Fareham, Gosport and the Gosport peninsula, the development of the BRT scheme has been designed to ensure that bus journeys are more punctual and reliable, avoiding the problems that can be created by traffic congestion.
The dedicated Eclipse BRT busway has been constructed between Redlands Lane and Tichborne Way using what was a former railway line. Its purpose is to enable buses to bypass normal traffic, travelling quickly and easily through a very congested part of the county.
A fleet of 14 brand new, high specification buses, has been specially commissioned and will be operated by local transport provider First. This fleet will provide a dedicated, fast and frequent service on the Eclipse bus rapid transit network. Services E1 and E2 connect Fareham and Gosport providing regular travel opportunities for those wishing to get to and from the thriving shopping areas in each town, while also connecting with rail and ferry services and other bus services in the area, making it easy for people to interchange with other forms of transport. In addition Service 88, an existing bus route connecting the two towns, will also use the busway at peak times, avoiding the traffic congestion that can build up on the A32 approaching Fareham and helping to reduce journey times for peak time commuters.
Where Services E1 and E2 buses leave the dedicated busway and travel on-road, meeting normal traffic, the array of bus priority measures that have been put in place along the routes means that Eclipse buses can easily sail past other vehicles caught in traffic jams. This is particularly notable at the junctions between the A27 and Redlands Lane and the junction between the A32 and Tichborne Way.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, at Hampshire County Council says: “We are committed to bus rapid transit in south east Hampshire and understand what it needs to offer in order to change perceptions of its value and benefits. Completion of the scheme demonstrates the significant investment that we, with the Government’s help, are making in transport infrastructure to enable improved public transport alternatives and reduce reliance on the car. Although I appreciate that, for some, it will be a big step to leave the car and travel by bus, the combination of reliable journey times and top quality buses with Wi-Fi as well as on-board, real-time travel information, are persuasive and convincing reasons to do so.”
Marc Reddy, Regional Commercial and Business Growth Director for First in the South West and Wales, says: “This is an exciting day for bus users in Hampshire. The launch of the Eclipse network delivers significant benefits for local people. The new routes, the improved infrastructure that supports them and the brand new, state of the art buses operating on them, offer people in Gosport and Fareham a real alternative to other forms of transport, making it much easier for them to travel around the area for work or pleasure. We are thrilled to have been able to work with Hampshire County Council to deliver this project and look forward to carrying many thousands of people in the months and years to come.”
The majority of funding for the busway came from a £20 million Government grant. The first Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit passengers travelled on Sunday 22 April when vehicles started running along the dedicated route.
This first phase of the Eclipse BRT network brings numerous immediate benefits to the area. Bus users in Gosport and Fareham now have access to:
- 14 brand new, specially designed buses, all complete with individual leather seats, wood effect flooring, free Wi-Fi, on-board infotainment screens providing real time bus information, local train and ferry departures, and both audible and visual “next stop” bus announcements.
- More frequent services: buses will run up to every seven minutes along the busway,
- 14 brand new bus stops on the busway, with enhanced facilities for customers. They include large shelters, comfortable seating, plenty of lighting, real time information screens, CCTV for added security and additional measures to improve accessibility for disabled users for example blind and partially sighted bus users in possession of special key fobs (being provided by Hampshire County Council) will be able to access audio announcements at key bus stops on demand.
- A number of other upgraded bus stops at key locations in the region, for instance at Fareham and Gosport bus stations, Fareham rail station and Creek Road in Gosport. The stops will offer customers similar facilities as the stops along the busway itself, while elsewhere a number of other stops have been refurbished, incorporating QR codes within the stop that users will be able to scan with their mobile phones to access real time bus information.
- Secure 24/7 real-time CCTV monitored cycle parking is provided on the busway near the junctions of Redlands Lane, Palmerston Drive, Wych Lane and Tichborne Way, giving customers the option of cycling to and from BRT stops before using the Eclipse buses to complete their journeys. Notably cyclists can also use the busway themselves.
For more information about First in Hampshire and Dorset, or to view, download or personalise timetables for those routes using the new BRT busway, log onto: www.firstgroup.com/hampshire.
A dedicated website has also been created to support the Eclipse BRT. This contains real time bus information for the services operating on the busway. It can be found at: www.eclispebus.co.uk
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