Three new bus services will start in the New Forest later this month thanks to support from the New Forest National Park Authority.
The Authority is using Department for Transport (DfT) funding to support the three seasonal services, and encourage more car-free travel in and around the National Park.
If successful, these services will be paid for by passengers through ticket sales in future years rather than being dependent on public money for support. By appealing to visitors, better services can be provided for local people.
- Forest Bus is a new improved service between Southampton and Lymington, via Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst. It upgrades the existing Bluestar 6 bus route with extra Sunday service and discounts at attractions. It will run hourly every day from 24 May to 31 October www.forestbus.info
- Forest Bus Baby is a brand new weekend service, which will run across the Forest linking Hythe, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Burley, Ringwood and Moors Valley Country Park. The hourly service will run on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 24 May to 31 October, and it will also will also offer great value day tickets and discounts. Ticket holders can also enjoy a free cake, when they buy a hot drink, at selected cafes along both Forest Bus and Forest Bus Baby routes www.forestbus.info
- The Summer Service X24 to Paultons Park will run from Southampton to Paultons Park, via Romsey. It will run every weekend and bank holidays from 23 May to 6 September, and it will become a daily service from 27 July during the school summer holidays https://paultonspark.co.uk/park-information/directions
The open-top New Forest Tour and its three scenic routes will also return from 27 June to 13 September, and the Beach Bus will run from Hythe to Lymington via Lepe Country Park from 25 July to 31 August.
Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the Authority, said: ‘These three new bus services, along with the existing New Forest Tour and Beach Bus, mean that there are now plenty of options for residents and visitors to leave their cars behind. This not only supports the local economy by encouraging visitor spending in towns and villages, but will help take cars off the road and reduce the pressure on the National Park’s fragile landscapes.
‘It’s also very important that these services become self-funding. We’ve recently seen how buses which are too reliant on public subsidies can be vulnerable to cuts. Whilst some support is needed to establish these services, the aim is to make them more financially viable through ticket sales rather than rely on ever decreasing pots of public funding.’
The buses are supported by the Authority and Hampshire County Council through the DfT’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which has helped enhance public transport and infrastructure, as well as promote walking and cycling.
The Forest Bus, Forest Bus Baby, New Forest Tour and Beach Bus are run in partnership with operators Go South Coast, whilst the Summer Service X24 to Paultons Park is run by Paultons Park and Xelabus.
Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of Go South Coast, said: ‘We’re delighted that our partnership with the National Park Authority goes from strength to strength. The New Forest Tour and Beach Bus enjoyed record passenger numbers in 2014, and we’re sure that thousands more will hop on the Forest Bus and Forest Bus Baby from spring through to the autumn.’
Stephen Lorton, Commercial Director of Paultons Park, said: ‘The Summer Service X24 to Paultons Park will be a convenient way for families to get to us on weekends and during the school summer holidays, and enjoy Peppa Pig World and our new Critter Creek attraction. We know many of our visitors arrive by car but the X24 will now be a great alternative for guests travelling from in and around the Southampton area.’
For more information on National Park Authority supported buses visit www.forestbus.info, https://paultonspark.co.uk/park-information/directions, www.thenewforesttour.info and www.thebeachbus.info
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