New funding to support bus service improvements

Southampton City Council has received £1.2M of funding from the Department for Transport (DfT)’s Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (‘BSIP+’) allocation to support bus services for the next two years

A photo of two Bluestar buses at the bus stops on Above Bar Street with buildings and trees in the background.

The council, working in partnership with local bus operators, Bluestar, First Solent, Xelabus, and Unilink have set out priorities that the BSIP+ funding can deliver in Southampton:

  • Supporting local services through investing in improvements in the frequencies of buses to communities in Harefield, Thornhill, Shirley, and Lordshill
  • Looking at new bus services such as connecting the city centre with the Outdoor Sports Centre, Lordshill and University Hospital Southampton via Hill Lane
  • Underpinning fare offers such as the £1 Evening Fare, which would continue to 2025, and group fare offers approaching Christmas
  • Improving information at bus stops, promoting and marketing bus travel to specific audiences and occasions

Angela Berry, CEO of Lighthouse Learning Trust, which includes Richard Taunton Sixth Form College, said:

“The new bus route via Hill Lane is welcome news for young people who, at the moment, have no direct route to attend our college unless they use the college minibus. This new service will provide more opportunities for students to study in Southampton with an easier, more environmentally friendly journey. It will also support the communities we serve to access training and all that the vibrant city of Southampton has to offer.”

These objectives form part of the council’s plan for bus travel, known as the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which, working with local bus operators, aims to make buses an attractive choice for residents. This is built on reliability, sustainability, and value for money and growing the 17.4m bus passenger journeys, 90% of pre-pandemic levels, currently made per year in and around Southampton.

A key part of the BSIP is regularly reviewing its progress and as part of that process, the council launched the latest BSIP Survey on Monday 23 October 2023. The survey will be open for two weeks and will help us to understand how travel choices are evolving in the city and what priorities and improvements would encourage more people to travel by bus. To take part, please visit the BSIP survey. The BSIP survey should take around 10 minutes to complete.

The BSIP ties in with the bus infrastructure improvements coming forward as part of the DfT's Transforming Cities Fund, including the Central Station Interchange, Albion Place bus hub and the bus gates at East Park Terrace and Portland Terrace, as well as the Southampton £1 evening fare offer and national £2 single bus fare funded by the DfT. Together, these initiatives directly support the targeted improvements in reliability and affordability that are key objectives in the council’s corporate plan to provide a better public transport service for residents.   

Richard Tyldsley, Bluestar general manager, said:

“Together with Southampton City Council, our team has worked hard to secure government funding support, which will help to make sustainable travel an even more attractive option across the city. We strongly believe buses are the perfect solution for reducing congestion and improving air quality in the area and the Bus Service Improvement Plan will play a significant role in achieving this.”

Councillor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said:

“Together with our partners at Bluestar, First Solent, Xelabus, and Unilink, we are committed to making bus travel more affordable, accessible and frequent in Southampton. This Government funding is helping to achieve that and by making bus travel more reliable and more affordable through the BSIP, we can help people to make the greener and more sustainable choices when travelling in the city. Just one full double decker bus has the potential to take up to 75 cars off the road which will have the added benefit of making journeys easier for all road users.

“Through the BSIP survey, the views of our residents become the foundation of the BSIP, with your feedback influencing the direction of future policies. We are keen to hear what you have to say and so I would encourage everyone to take part and give us your views.”