Southampton City Council makes start on bold and ambitious plans for Rapid Bus Corridor including Park and Ride

Southampton City Council has commenced works at Mountbatten Way as part of its future plans for a game changing Rapid Bus Corridor running from Totton and Hythe to Southampton city centre. The project is part of an innovative programme of transport schemes funded by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), which in March this year awarded £57m to Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council following a successful joint bid to the Department for Transport.

Delivered in partnership with Hampshire County Council, the Rapid Bus Corridor will connect people living in Totton, Waterside, Redbridge and new developments in the New Forest to key employment, leisure and education sites in Southampton. It will see the creation of new bus priority lanes and advanced traffic signal technology to facilitate more reliable and efficient bus journeys along the A33 approach to Southampton city centre. The addition of new ‘Super Stops’ at busier locations in Hythe, Totton and Millbrook will provide safe places for passengers to wait for the bus and access the latest travel information.

The corridor is also set to support a new Park and Ride scheme to be based by J1 of M271. Plans for a Park and Ride facility feature heavily in the council’s long-term Local Transport Plan – ‘Connected Southampton 2040’ - launched back in 2018 following a city-wide consultation. The works at Mountbatten Way are the very first to be associated with these plans and signal the early beginnings of a Park and Ride scheme in the west of Southampton. The council will work with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and its existing Park and Ride scheme serving Southampton General Hospital at Adanac Park during the week. The scheme will also enable the trial of a weekend Park and Ride service running to the city centre and Central Station via M271 and A33. As well as bus travel, the Park and Ride site is intended to provide access to a range of additional onwards travel options with the potential for e-scooters and e-bikes, cycle parking and click and collect facilities. 

The council’s Highways Partners, Balfour Beatty Living Places, have made a positive start on the delivery of the Rapid Bus Corridor with early works now taking place on Mountbatten Way eastbound, which will be widened to extend the existing right hand turn into West Quay Road and create a new lane. These works are being carried out now to take advantage of lower traffic volumes and are expected to take approximately five weeks.

Further works are set to follow in January 2021 on Millbrook Road West, which will be widened eastbound from east of King George’s Avenue to extend the four lanes on the approach to the Regents Park Road junction. Consultation on this section of the corridor is set to begin in the Regents Park area from 5 October. Both phases at Mountbatten Way and Millbrook Road West will create new road space so that the outside (left hand) lane of the A33 can become a bus lane whilst maintaining general capacity for cars. The full Rapid Bus Corridor, including the new Park and Ride, is expected to complete by the end of 2022. Other bus lanes along Redbridge Road and over the Hampshire border in Totton and Marchwood are to be delivered even earlier to support existing bus services. These plans will require a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) with residents, organisations and stakeholders to be consulted throughout the delivery of the corridor.

In addition to the council’s plans for a traditional Park and Ride in Southampton West, the council is working with local bus operators to develop plans for a small scale ‘Park and Travel’ scheme serving the east of the city, to be trialled later this year.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place at Southampton City Council, says:
“Public transport is important to Southampton’s recovery and is high on our agenda when it comes to reducing congestion, improving local air quality and supporting sustainable growth. With 30% of households in Southampton and the wider area without access to a car, bus travel is also crucial to ensuring a fair, efficient and consistent transport system that serves everybody’s needs equally. We must therefore invest in better public transport to make travelling by bus a viable, attractive and reliable option. The development of a Rapid Bus Corridor along the western approach to the city will dramatically change the face of public transport in Southampton, allowing people to travel easily, seamlessly and sustainably on high quality vehicles. Park and Ride will play a vital role in this and we recognise there are strong calls for this across the city. We’re delighted to now be taking the first steps towards this with the early works at Mountbatten Way and other exciting plans in the pipeline in Bitterne.”

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said:
“The £57million awarded for transport and travel improvements is welcome, and has the potential to transform the way people travel in and around South Hampshire without a car – promoting economic prosperity, linking transport and housing developments, reducing congestion, improving air quality and tackling carbon emissions. The schemes now in progress will also go some way in making it easier for people to leave the car at home for their daily commute.”