AROUND £400,000 will be spent on promotional and marketing activities to “educate” people on how to use buses in Hampshire.

The spending will also include training people who feel uncomfortable using public transport and free bus services on weekends in some parts of the county.

The funding comes from the £7.16m Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) grant that the government awarded Hampshire County Council last May.

It is a one-off over two years and must be spent on improving bus services and passenger facilities and promoting the bus network. The plan aims to transform services in England by making them more attractive, convenient and affordable.

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In September, Cllr Nick Adams-King, executive lead member for universal services, considered a report on how the BSIP + funding would be spent, with six broad areas for investment, one being to deliver multi-operator promotional campaigns to promote bus use.

How the money will be used was approved in January, with £200,000 on non-bus user education and market initiatives and a further £200,000 for fares schemes like the £2 capped single fare initiative which is running until the end of the year.

County council officers said the campaign will encourage people to use the bus service and to make them more confident.

The campaign will feature short videos that will “educate” and show people “how to use the bus” as well as training for those who are uncomfortable using public transport.

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As part of the proposal, the “Our Bus” campaign, delivered by the council, Bluestar, First Solent and Stagecoach, will be extended, and “free bus” Saturdays or weekends in several areas of Hampshire will be funded.

Council officers said: “It’s all about getting more people to try and use public transport to become more regular bus users, and hopefully, as that’s the continued progress of getting people back on buses after Covid.”

According to a report, on the busiest bus routes in Hampshire with frequent services, the number of passengers has now returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels. However, on less attractive routes numbers still need to recover.

Of the BSIP+ funding, around £100,000 would be used to provide travel training, around £50,000 to develop promotional videos targeting young people and £50,000 to create and share “how-to” videos.

Cllr Nick Adams-King, said: “This offers a great opportunity for us to highlight that actually there are some pretty good bus corridors around the county that offer some really good connectivity. Clearly, with two pounds a journey, it’s a lot cheaper to go some places than to take your car and park. So it’s worth pushing up with people.”