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Plan for flexible tickets on Hampshire bus routes

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BUS tickets in Hampshire could soon be used to travel on any routes passengers like.

Currently, tickets bought with a specific bus company are only valid for its vehicles – even if other firms travel a similar route, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Now Hampshire County Council is proposing to introduce multi-operator bus tickets so users can seamlessly move between First, Stagecoach and Bluestar services, among others.

Tickets currently bought with a specific bus company are only valid for its vehicles
Tickets currently bought with a specific bus company are only valid for its vehicles

The plans were put forward as part of the council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which was approved by Cllr Rob Humby, cabinet member for economy, transport and environment. They include giving buses more priority routes in major towns.

Cllr Humby said: "We are fortunate in Hampshire to have a long-standing, strong track record of working closely in partnership with bus operators in our local authority area which, prior to Covid-19, saw the county buck national trends with the number of bus passengers increasing year on year."

He also pointed to the use of government funding to provide contactless ticket machines and live passenger updates at bus stops.

The commitments laid out in the plan are subject to the county council securing further funding from the Department for Transport, via its Bus Back Better scheme.

At the moment, only SolentGo tickets can be used with different operators.

Bus operators themselves are also on board with the proposals. Marc Reddy, managing director of First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, said: "First Bus is very supportive of the government’s ambition, outlined in the National Bus Strategy, to improve bus services and increase the number of people travelling by bus across the country.

"We will continue to work with Hampshire County Council to finalise proposals and deliver a compelling offer for customers in Hampshire.

"Multi-operator ticketing has been in place across south Hampshire for over 17 years with the ‘SolentGo’ ticket which allows one ticket to be used across multiple bus operators for travelling on a single day or longer duration. This plan will hopefully expand these options further with a wider range of tickets which can be used across multiple operators."

A spokesperson from Stagecoach South said: "We’re proud of our continued positive partnership with Hampshire County Council and are committed to working together to deliver sustainable, reliable and affordable bus travel in Hampshire.

"We welcome the new BSIP proposal and have been closely involved in its preparation, which has the needs of our local communities at its heart.

"Stagecoach looks forward to working with the council to deliver a step-change in the quality and reliability of bus services in Hampshire, which sees investment in new bus priority measures and ticket simplification with the introduction of tap on/tap off technology."

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