By Connor Steel
WORK to extend the rapid transit bus lane route between Gosport and Fareham appears to be coming to an end after two years of development.
The development follows an announcement by First Solent that Ellipse services will be using the extra 0.6-mile section from the early hours of Sunday, December 5.
But despite praise for the project in its early stages, it is likely to cause issues for many users between Holbrook and Rowner, with route and bus stops changed as the lane opens fully next month.
The bus lane first opened in 2012 after redevelopment of a disused railway line between the boroughs, with Hampshire County Council confirming plans to extend the section to more than three miles six years later. Public consultations were held in May 2018 and July 2019, with funding of £6.9 million awarded by the Department for Transport in October 2018 alongside an extra £1.4 million secured in partnership with Portsmouth City Council.
Development has since been carried out from Tichborne Way / Hutfield Link to Rowner Road (B3334), which started in early 2020 and included a ramp linking the bus lane to the main Rowner Road bridge. This will now finish before the end of November in preparation for the early December opening and has been completed on target, despite Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
It is hoped that this extension will make journeys faster and more reliable for hundreds of regular visitors, taking buses away from main road traffic with fewer bus stops. Buses will no longer travel on their current routes from December 5 but follow the extension from Hutlink Link to Rowner Road, returning to normal routes in Gosport towards the town centre. This also applies heading towards Fareham, with a map available to view here.
But this does mean the closure of bus stops across the area, with E2 users from nearby Charnwood, Yewside, Oakdene and the leisure centre having to revisit their routines. The same applies for E1 stops of Acorn Close, Turner Avenue and Cheriton Road, with residents of Tichborne Way, Forest Way and Fareham Road able to walk through to new stops on either side of the extended bus lane. New Oakdene and Leisure Centre stops are available on this new section.
In response to the media release on social media, concerns have been raised about people with mobility or other issues as a result of the changes. Many now face longer distances to walk to use public transport, which some say could increase isolation particularly in the Tichborne Way and Brockhurst areas. Others have asked about shopping needs, as the stops opposite Brockhurst Gate will only see limited buses such as the Number 11 route throughout the day.
So far there has been no official information or clarification to address these concerns, although further announcements are expected over the next few weeks. Readers should follow First Solent on Facebook or its website, which will feature important information and updates in the build-up to this extension opening on December 5. The Gosport & Fareham Globe will also follow updates and publish on our website when appropriate.
PICTURED: Behind the gates view of bus lane in development on Saturday, November 6