Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “I’m delighted that the scheme has been completed and I commend the project team and contractor for ensuring this has been achieved on time.
“This type of transport infrastructure is completely in line with the Government’s national strategy ‘Bus Back Better’ and stands Hampshire in good stead for realising the vision to improve bus services outside of London. This dedicated additional one kilometre of busway forms part of a wider integrated transport strategy for South-East Hampshire which aims to reduce reliance on car travel by providing better public transport options, as well as to help reduce congestion and support the regionally important South-East Hampshire economy.”
Marc Reddy, managing director of First Hampshire Dorset and Berkshire, said: “Since its launch in 2012, the Eclipse has been a huge success. The rapid transit busway cuts out congestion, leading to quick and reliable bus services which have tempted people out of their cars. Consequently, passenger numbers have risen dramatically. The opening of the new extension is the next chapter in the Eclipse success story and we are very proud to work in partnership with Hampshire County Council to continue to deliver these services.”
Councillor Humby added: “In delivering this extension, we listened to the local community and worked with our partners to secure both planning permission and the funding for this much needed addition to the existing route. In doing so, we took care to retain the separate pedestrian and cycle route at Rowner Road bridge.”
The one kilometre route extension increases the overall length of the existing busway – which runs parallel to the A32 (one of Hampshire’s most congested roads) - to 4.5km, allowing for rapid uncongested travel between Gosport and Fareham and extending the reach from Tichborne Way and Hutfield Link to Rowner Road, in Gosport.
The extension scheme was jointly funded by £6.93m from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) National Productivity Investment Fund; £3.27m from Hampshire County Council; and £1.4m from the DfT Transforming Cities Fund. In addition, to support the investment in infrastructure, First Bus has committed to investing £3.8m in a new bus fleet.
Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit is a partnership project between the County Council and First Bus. Completion of this latest section of busway marks a total investment to date of nearly £100 million in road and transport improvements in the Fareham and Gosport area, with significant funding support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, aimed at improving access to the Gosport Peninsula and the Solent Enterprise Zone (Daedalus).
About the Eclipse bus services
The bus (E1 and E2) services are branded as Eclipse - a brand jointly developed by First and Hampshire County Council. Eclipse buses have free wi-fi, at seat USB charging points and next-stop audio and visual announcements. High quality waiting facilities are provided for passengers with Real Time service information displayed, which can be downloaded to mobile phones, including rail and ferry information for onward connecting journeys. There are also bus lanes and priority measures on several sections of the Eclipse routes in Fareham and Gosport.
Passenger numbers have risen dramatically since the introduction of Eclipse. There are over two million passenger journeys made per annum.
Other Fareham and Gosport transport infrastructure
As well as the Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit route, the County Council has also invested in constructing the Stubbington Bypass, which is currently underway, upgrades to Newgate Lane and Peel Common roundabout and capacity improvements to the A27.