Thousands swap cars for buses as passenger numbers rise in the New Forest

Beach Bus Family at Lepe

Published Monday 11 August 2014

Passenger numbers for New Forest buses are at an all-time high as visitors and residents swap their cars for green transport.

The seasonal Beach Bus and open-top New Forest Tour are on course for record breaking summers thanks to new stops and discount offers, improved ferry links and a largely dry summer. 

Both services are run by operators More bus and Bluestar in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) funded campaign to encourage more people to travel without a car in the National Park. 

Twice as many people caught the Beach Bus in its first week (26 July to 1 August) compared to the same period last year, with 1,552 passengers in 2014 compared to 719 in 2013.

The daily summer service, from Hythe to Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington, has proved popular with visitors and residents thanks to great value tickets and a free ferry link from Southampton. Passengers also enjoy 20% discounts at attractions like Buckler’s Hard as well as free ice creams at Lepe beach.

The New Forest Tour has so far attracted 15,977 passengers compared to 15,388 in the same period last year (28 June to 2 August). Last year a record 40,600 passengers hopped on the open-top’s three routes around the National Park during its 11-week season. 

Numbers for the green route around the south east of the New Forest are significantly higher thanks to a new link with Hythe Ferry, whilst the red route in the north of the Forest has benefitted from new stops at New Forest Wildlife Park and Longdown Activity Farm near Ashurst. The timetable for the blue route along the south coast has also been revised so all three routes run eight times a day, seven days a week.

Edward Heron, Deputy Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘These figures show that by providing a better experience, better value and regular services you can encourage visitors and residents to swap their cars for greener forms of transport.

‘The good weather has been very important. But we had a warm and dry summer in 2013, so to improve on last year’s figures is significant. 

‘The New Forest Tour and Beach Bus also help to protect the fragile landscapes of the National Park by reducing congestion and carbon emissions, as well as providing a boost to local businesses. Last year the New Forest Tour saved around 223,000 private car miles and contributed an estimated £660,000 to the local economy.’

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operators More bus and Bluestar, said: ‘We’re very pleased with the summer we’ve had so far. The new link for the New Forest Tour with Hythe Ferry has been particularly popular as people ferry across from Southampton rather than driving their cars.’ 

The Beach Bus and New Forest Tour are supported in part by a £3.8m sustainable transport fund from the Department of Transport, shared with the South Downs National Park. The aim is to encourage 370,000 people to get out of their cars and use greener transport by the end of March 2015.

The Beach Bus runs until 31 August. For more information visit www.thebeachbus.info, www.facebook.com/ridethebeachbus and www.twitter.com/ridethebeachbus.

The New Forest Tour’s three routes run until 14 September. For more information and a 10% online discount visit www.thenewforesttour.info, www.facebook.com/newforesttour and www.twitter.com/newforesttour

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Picture caption: The Beach Bus at Lepe beach.

Notes to editor: Filming and interview opportunities are available for the Beach Bus and New Forest Tour. Please contact Communications Officer Sion Donovan on 01590 646639 or sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

The New Forest Tour

The New Forest Tour was awarded a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by Tripadvisor in 2014 for being listed in the top 10 per cent of businesses on its website.

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, Hythe Ferry, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst
  • Red Route: serving Burley, Ringwood, Fordingbridge, Sandy Balls, Ashurst, New Forest Wildlife Park, Longdown Activity Farm and Lyndhurst
  • Blue Route: serving Brockenhurst, Burley, New Milton, Barton-on-Sea, Milford-on-Sea, Keyhaven and Lymington.

New Forest Tour customers can enjoy five days’ travel for the price of two with a five day ticket. It’s valid for any five days in a two week period.

New for 2014, customers from Southampton can enjoy a free cruise across on Hythe Ferry to join the Tour in Hythe, when they buy a New Forest Tour ticket from Hythe Ferry in Southampton.

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

The New Forest Tour is supported by the New Forest National Park Authority, and Hampshire County Council.

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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