By Connor Steel
FIRST SOLENT has announced details of its bus schedules as the countdown begins for Christmas.
Released last Thursday afternoon, it involves a special timetable for Gosport, Fareham and Portsmouth, running from December 24 until January 4.
Christmas Eve will see the current Monday to Friday timetable in operation to help passengers travelling to work or festive gatherings, although some early finishes will apply to many services from 8pm. There will be no services on Christmas Day, which has become a tradition for public transport over recent years.
Boxing Day will have limited services running from approximately 8am to 6pm across a selected number of routes including the E1 / E2 Eclipse buses. Six other routes across Portsmouth will also be running, including the number 3 from South Parade Pier to Fareham Bus Station. No other services will run on this day.
On the two bank holidays of December 27 and 28, all services across the region will be running a Saturday schedule throughout. This will revert to a Saturday timetable running from Wednesday, December 29 until New Year’s Eve, with buses again finishing early at 8pm on the Friday evening.
New Year’s Day will see no buses services across the region, joining Christmas Day in this tradition. But Sunday timetables will return on January 2 and the Monday bank holiday onJanuary 3, with the normal schedules operating from January 4 when most schools and offices will reopen after the Christmas breaks.
On social media, First Solent has outlined the need to balance user requirements with limited availability of drivers due to annual leave and other circumstances, maintaining access to most towns and cities across the region. It has also advised customers that these timetables are subject to change at short notice and apologised to anyone who would need to rethink travel plans.
The company has also thanked customers throughout the region for supporting bus travel during another unprecedented year with Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. It meant low bus usage at the beginning of the year but has significantly increased. First Solent is hoping this can continue in the early part of 2022.
Readers can explore the planned festive timetables by visiting this link, which offers exact information on early finishing for Christmas and New Year Eves. Downloadable schedules can be seen for each day during this period, whilst there is a separate timetable for the Southampton region.
Bus users across Gosport and Fareham are also reminded about changes to Eclipse services starting from December 5 due to the planned opening of the BRT extension. Stops around Holbrook and Rowner will become redundant as routes go past Hutfield Link towards Rowner Bridge instead. More information can be found on this link.
PICTURED: Buses prepare to depart from Fareham Bus Station