Want to travel on a new Star? First Solent introduces 24 new Stars as part of £4 Million investment in bus passenger luxury
- £4 million investment in 24 brand-new premium vehicles
- New vehicles take First Solent’s overall investment in the Star as part of a voluntary Quality Bus Partnership to £13 million since 2008
- A third of passengers use First Bus app to pay for their journey
- Contactless payments account for 41% of all on-bus ticket sales since this payment method was first introduced
Passengers catching the Portsmouth ‘Star’ Service 7 or 8 between Waterlooville and Portsmouth will soon be travelling in brand-new, state-of-the-art vehicles after bus operator First Solent unveiled a £4m investment in 24 brand-new environmentally friendly buses.
During the launch ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall, First Solent’s Managing Director, Marc Reddy, said:
The buses look and feel fantastic and will deliver a first-class travel experience for our customers. With the new fleet we expect to attract even more passengers, which will positively impact on congestion and air quality in the area whilst also supporting the local economy enabling even more people to access education, leisure and work.
The bus opeartor also revealed that the Star fleet in 2019 operated 2,500,000 passenger journeys. 1 in 3 Star journeys made by fare-paying passengers are made using mTickets, and that contactless payments now account for 41% of all on-bus sales.
Councillor Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transportation, said:
I really welcome this significant investment by our partners, First Bus, to help improve our air quality and make Portsmouth a better place to live, visit, work and study. The new technology in the Euro VI buses reduces harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions and this will have a positive impact on the health of the people who live along this busy route. I hope that the new buses will encourage people who would normally drive this route to leave their cars at home more and enjoy the comfortable environment of the new vehicles.
The buses all feature refreshed maritime-themed branding with an attractive ‘Portsmouth’-inspired livery and colour scheme. The familiar compass logo and Star word mark has made way for a modern star logo and the Star brand name was upgraded by way of a futuristic font type.
The low-floor Alexander-Dennis Enviro200 vehicles are fitted with the latest in mod-con technology for an attractive journey, including free Wi-Fi, at-seat USB charging points and next-stop audio announcements and tv screens displaying route information. Comfortable seating and wooden vinyl flooring further add to an attractive travel experience. The 11.5m long bus can carry 73 passengers (up to 39 seated plus 34 standees.)
Under the bonnet sits the latest environmentally friendly EuroVI engine which produces 95% less nitrogen oxides emissions compared with a Euro V engine, and as a result will help improve air quality across the route. As a first for First Solent, the Star vehicles are also equipped with start/stop technology. This technology allows the engine to automatically cut out when passengers board and alight.
First Solent continued investment in the Star bus fleet forms part of a long-term voluntary quality partnership scheme dating back to 2008, when Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council established the ZIP Bus Priority Corridor (also known as the A3 corridor) with the help of government funding. From early on, First Solent signed up to the voluntary partnership and committed to ensuring bus passengers would travel on state of-the-art, attractive vehicles. Twelve years on, the partnership goes from strength to strength with First having so far invested £13 million in new vehicles, of which £8.2 million was made in over the past 7 years.
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said:
I’m pleased to see this continued investment by First in their bus fleet serving the Star corridor which will have a positive impact on the environment, while providing viable public transport options. Making bus travel more attractive to more people and reducing the number of car journeys, together with modern additions such as contactless payments and start/stop technology, will help ease congestion and improve air quality as people go about their day-to-day journeys.
Both services combine to operate up to every 7 mins daytime between Waterlooville, Cosham and Portsmouth. A Day ticket allowing unlimited travel in Portsmouth costs £4.30 on the company’s smartphone app and regular customers will benefit from a £17 week mTicket, which provides unlimited travel on First Solent services in Portsmouth for the equivalent of £2.50 a day. Route maps, timetables and fare information can be found at: www.firstgroup.com/portsmouth-fareham-gosport/routes-and-maps/star