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The most commonly identified improvement to encourage people to use the bus is through making changes to ticketing. Lowering the price of tickets is mentioned as the most appealing option to encourage bus travel. They describe the cost of tickets as the most significant barrier to bus travel, and feel that lower prices would likely outweigh the other barriers identified in section 7.2 of this report.

Comments from interviewees:

“…when we have decided to lower the fares, which I’m hoping will come out of this Bus Improvement Plan” (Councillor)

 “…if it’s so cheap that other guiding principles come into play, such as ‘I’m actually going to save so much money by taking the bus that I can cope with not being that cool’, there is a compensatory factor” (Councillor)

The introduction of integrated ticketing is described as an important change to make to ticketing. Through this, one ticket could be accepted across all buses in Portsmouth for no extra charge, meaning bus travel would become more convenient without an increase in cost. Passengers would be able to board any bus that travelled to their destination without worrying that they would have to pay a separate fee for different bus companies.

Comments from interviewees:

Integrated ticketing has got to be the way forward” (Councillor)

 “I think more people would be willing to use the service if that was the case, a recognisable ticket across both bus companies” (Pompey Pensioners)

Several of those interviewed advocated for promotional or discounted tickets, to encourage people to test bus travel and make their first journey. One example includes taster weeks where fares are reduced to enable residents and visitors to understand how easy bus travel could be. For this to be most effective, it is highlighted that fares would need to be permanently reduced from the price they are now to encourage post-promotion bus usage.

Comments from interviewees:

“…a discount or a promotion to get people to use the buses, to find out how good the buses are would be a good thing” (Councillor)

 “…if we had a few taster days or a week or so, people could get used to it (…) maybe £1 per journey just to get people used to it ” (Councillor)


The availability of buses in Portsmouth is highlighted as an area for improvement, which could overcome some of the barriers preventing residents from travelling by bus covered in section 7.2 of this report. Routes are described as needing to be more comprehensive, providing better coverage to areas which are currently under-served by the bus service. more comprehensive routes would make bus travel more accessible to those in areas with previous poor coverage. The suggested improvement to bus routes should also increase the number of direct routes, which would make bus travel simpler and faster. A better coordination between bus timetables would also improve journey times and convenience for passengers who would need to change buses during their journey.

Comments from interviewees:

“Coming from Waterlooville and outlying districts perhaps a number of more direct routes into the centre of Portsmouth. Not everyone wants to go to the town centre, some want to come to Fratton” (Pompey Pensioners)

 “…it’s a joined up network as well as the extremities, because it’s not just the extremities that don’t have the services” (Councillor)

The frequency of buses is highlighted as needing improvement, particularly in areas which already have bus routes running through them without a convenient frequency. In particular, increasing the frequency of buses in the mornings, in the evenings and at weekends is highlighted as important for enabling particular demographics to make use of the bus. The length of the bus day was also identified as a barrier, meaning improvements should focus on extending bus start and end times. Hospital staff or shift workers, who may start work before the current bus timetable begins for the day, would benefit from increased services and length of day.

Comments from interviewees:

“…that buses don’t go early enough for a lot of people and don’t go late enough for others. I think the length of day needs to be improved, because I think that leads towards safety as well” (Councillor)


Access to information is highlighted as something which may impede the ease of using the bus. Therefore, it may be beneficial to provide clearer information about bus services, such as timetables and schedules, both at bus stops and online. Signage and more accurate and reliable real-time information at bus stops could build trust in passengers and make the schedule of the bus easier to understand and access. Digital information away from the bus stop may be provided through online accessibility, as well as through the accurate and reliable use of apps to enable passengers to build their journey, with all information available in one place.

Comments from interviewees:

“…very often the timetable that you find online isn’t the same as is on the bus shelter and the real-time information, there’s a lack of coordination there” (Councillor)

 “I felt I could sort out everything digitally (…) so that I didn’t have to deal with any engagement, so I could sort it out before or buy a ticket” (Councillor)

To overcome the lack of familiarity which may pose a barrier to some residents in using the bus, information could be provided about how to use the bus and bus etiquette; making it clear where bus stops are, how to pay on the bus and how to use stop buttons whilst on the bus. This could be achieved through information at bus stops or campaigns promoting and explaining bus travel.

Comments from interviewees:

“…communication around how easy it is to travel around by bus, in terms of ticketing, in terms of accessibility, in terms of ‘what you do’ as it were” (Councillor)

Design and Experience

Another important improvement that is commonly identified is efforts to make the bus more environmentally friendly. For example, reducing the amount of diesel the bus uses is favoured by most of those interviewed; this would reduce emissions and pollution from the bus. Switching buses to run on electricity, hydrogen, or a hybrid of both electricity and diesel would help achieve this.

Comments from interviewees:

“…ecologically, electric buses would be a good way forward, bus idling is quite polluting. I think, as in London, a combination of electric and diesel is probably the way forward for the future” (Pompey Pensioners)

 “Either running on hydrogen or running on electric” (Councillor)

 “…we have to go for gold-standard in terms of public transport if we can, and I know our buses have been retrofitted, but actually, just to highlight that if you are going to use a bus it’s going to be more environmentally friendly that using your car” (Councillor)

The experience of using the bus could also be improved to make bus travel appear more appealing when compared against travelling by car, for example. To this effect, the comfort of the bus could be upgraded, ensuring that buses are relevant to modern living, to promote bus travel as equally as comfortable as travelling by car. This may include the provision of USB chargers and sufficient Wi-Fi on all bus services. Furthermore, to ensure buses are as accessible as possible, it is suggested that bus drivers should have relevant training on accessibility and disabilities to ensure that every passenger has an equally comfortable and enjoyable experience, ultimately encouraging them to use the bus again.

Comments from interviewees:

“…it is one about comfort, and one about being updated and relevant to modern living, so your USB stuff and comfy stuff, and environmentally green and everything” (Councillor)

 “I think that’s something the bus companies need to address, that everybody has a training course” (Councillor)