Beach Bus to return to the New Forest after attracting nearly 6,000 passengers

Published on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 13:19
Written by Sinead Fynes Black

The Beach Bus is set to return to the New Forest National Park next summer after a successful first season.

The new service ran for five weeks during the school summer holidays and attracted 5,898 passenger journeys.

Operated by Wilts & Dorset in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, the Beach Bus ran up to eight times a day, seven days a week.

The bus linked the Southampton-Hythe Ferry to the beach at Lepe Country Park. It also called at popular destinations such as Exbury Gardens, Buckler's Hard, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and Lymington.

Tickets for the hop on hop off service were just £5 a day per adult or £10 for a group, with a free ice cream at Lepe and 20 per cent discounts at Buckler's Hard, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and Puffin Billi Cruises at Lymington.

Alison Steele, manager at Lepe Country Park, said: 'The Beach Bus has proved popular with visitors, particularly those coming from Hythe and Southampton. It's shown that in the school summer holidays you don't have to have a car to enjoy the sun, sea and stunning views at Lepe.'

Jane Mills, the Buckler's Hard attraction manager, said: 'Our visitor numbers are up this summer compared to last year, and the Beach Bus has helped local people as well as visitors to the New Forest to visit Buckler's Hard and contribute towards that increase. We look forward to seeing it again next summer.'

Hundreds of local disadvantaged families have also enjoyed the Beach Bus this summer, after 300 family tickets were bought by the charity, The Dibden Allotment Fund.

The art deco style imagery for the Beach Bus, by local artist Brad Hutchings, also proved popular, with nearly 100 Beach Bus posters sold. Posters are still available from The Herald in Hythe and Lepe Country Park.

The Beach Bus is supported in part by a £3.8m Department for Transport grant to encourage car-free travel in the New Forest and South Downs National Parks.

David Harrison, National Park Authority lead member for transport, said: 'The Beach Bus has enjoyed a good summer. It has proved to be a real alternative to the car. By taking cars off the road and reducing carbon emissions, the Beach Bus has helped protect the special qualities of this unique landscape. It's also helped connect popular attractions with visitors and local communities, particularly in the Waterside area.'

Ed Wills, operations director of operator Wilts & Dorset, said: 'It's been a successful first season for the Beach Bus. It can take time for a new bus service to take off, but word of the Beach Bus has spread quite quickly. Passenger figures are healthy and we've received good customer feedback, with many calling for the service to be expanded next year.'

Source: New Forest National Park

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