Flying start for New Forest Tour after rise in passenger numbers

New Forest Tour three routes

Published Tuesday 16 July 2013

The New Forest Tour has seen its most successful start to the summer season yet with a big rise in passenger numbers.

In its first 11 days of the season, 2,806 passenger journeys were made on the red, green and blue routes compared to 1,695 in the same period last year – that’s a year on year increase of 66 per cent. 

After several days of sunny weather, the new blue route is now the most popular of the three, exploring the coast at Keyhaven, Milford on Sea and Barton on Sea, as well as holiday parks, campsites and attractions such as New Forest Cider at Burley.

The most popular day of the Tour so far was on the blue route last Tuesday (9 July), when 242 passenger journeys were made on a weekday during term time. The most popular day had previously been the green route on Sunday, 1 July, last year when there were 147 passenger journeys.

The Tour is run by Go South Coast in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority. It has grown in popularity, starting with 9,000 passenger journeys in 2007 and rising to nearly 34,000 passenger journeys in 2012. The Tour also contributes an estimated £500,000 to the local economy every year.

Chris Gregory, sustainable transport manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We’re delighted with the start the Tour has had this summer. Launching the new blue route has made a big difference, but the more established red and green routes are also much more popular this year. The weather has been kind and passengers have been attracted by the grandstand views from the top deck that you just can’t get anywhere else.’

Andrew Wickham, managing director of operator Go South Coast, said: ‘We’ve had an excellent response. There’s always some uncertainty about launching a new route, but we’re very pleased to see it’s now the most popular. We’ve had reports from drivers that they’ve been nearly been full – and that’s during a weekday before the start of the school holidays. But there’s still plenty more work to do to make sure all three Tour routes are an even greater success.’

A new timetable for the blue route began on Sunday (14 July) to make it more reliable and offer passengers more time to enjoy the natural scenery. It can be viewed at the new look website where visitors can also enjoy a 10 per cent discount if they book online at www.thenewforesttour.info.

The red and green routes of the New Forest Tour are commercially run, but the blue bus is supported by part of a £3.8m Department for Transport fund to encourage 370,000 car-free journeys in the New Forest and South Downs National Parks by March 2015. The Tour is also supported by Hampshire County Council.

All routes start run every hour daily until 15 September.

New Forest Tour passengers can also ride the Beach Bus for free with a valid Tour ticket. The new bus service runs from 27 July to September 1, calling at Southampton Hythe Ferry, Lepe Country Park, Exbury Gardens, Buckler’s Hard, Beaulieu and Lymington. For more information go to www.thebeachbus.info

-ends-

Picture caption: The red, green and blue New Forest Tour buses at this year’s launch at Milford on Sea. 

New Forest Tour background notes

In 2012 the New Forest Tour won a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Best Responsible Transport category at the Virgin Holiday Responsible Tourism Awards.

The New Forest Tour follows three routes known as red, green and blue.

■ Green Route: serving Lymington, Beaulieu, Exbury Gardens, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst

■ Red Route: serving Burley, Ringwood, Fordingbridge, Sandy Balls, Ashurst and Lyndhurst

■ Blue Route: serving Brockenhurst, Lymington, Milford-on-sea, Barton-on-sea, New Milton, Bashley, Thorney Hill and Burley.

New Forest Tour customers can enjoy free bus travel to and from Salisbury, Southampton, Bournemouth and Hythe on selected scheduled services. Simply buy your New Forest Tour ticket on scheduled bus services leaving these locations.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect

  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639
Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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