Southampton City Council has announced it will provide support to some essential bus services in Southampton so that people can continue to use these services. As bus travel emerges from the pandemic the Council is proposing to provide the support until at least the Summer, in advance of long-term Government funding for buses being announced.
The Council will continue to support the X12 service between City Centre, Freemantle & Shirley, and the three Bitterne Hoppa services, operated by Xela Bus. These provide vital links for people wanting to access services in Shirley, Bitterne and the City Centre and will continue to be funded by Southampton City Council.
In addition, the Council stepping in and providing support for the X11 service, currently operated by Xelabus, between Lordshill and the City Centre. This is being done to ensure that this critical service continues following the bus operator’s decision that they cannot operate it commercially. This will mean that the X11 will continue to run as currently.
The hours of operation and frequencies of all services will remain as they currently stand.
The news comes with the Council awaiting the outcome of a its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) and developing an Enhanced Bus Parntership, which could see the introduction of innovative ticket offers, bus priority at all traffic signals, safer and accessible bus stops for all and potential for government funding to support new or enhanced services. Successful funding could also mean the Enhanced Partnership would work on keeping the buses at the highest standard and moving towards zero emissions and as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.
Councillor Jeremy Moulton, Cabinet Member for Growth, said: “We recognise the importance of bus services in Southampton and we’re pleased to be supporting residents who rely on these routes especially as we continue to adjust to a new normal in travel behaviours as a result of the pandemic. Buses are an excellent way to travel around the city and we are proud that ours have the highest green credentials, making them an environmentally-friendly option for everyone.”
The city’s bus services carried 20 million passengers in 2019 and while the pandemic has caused a drop in passenger numbers, the figure recovered to 10million in 2021.
The services will be subsidised through the Department for Transport (DfT) Local Authority Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG).