A NEW weekend and seasonal shuttle bus between Ringwood and Hythe Ferry is on the cards after environmentally-friendly transport around the New Forest was awarded just over £2million from the Department for Transport.

Hampshire County Council and partner authorities will share the cash equally to improve car-free travel in the New Forest and South Downs National Parks for 2015/16.

The £1m allocation to the New Forest from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) will focus on improving bus and rail services, making it easier for local residents and visitors to travel around the National Park without a car.

The year’s funding comes after £3.8m from the LSTF programme was awarded for 2012/2015.

The funding helped support the new blue route for the open-top New Forest Tour, the seasonal Beach Bus linking Lymington, Beaulieu, Lepe and Hythe Ferry, as well as the New Forest Travel Concierge at Brockenhurst rail station, guiding visitors to car-free experiences.

Proposals for 2015/16 include:

  • A new weekend and seasonal shuttle bus across the Forest between Ringwood and Hythe Ferry
  • Improved bus services for the Bluestar 6 route between Lymington and Southampton
  • A new combined travel ticket for buses and ferries
  • Promotion of rail services between Brockenhurst and Lymington
  • Development of the inclusive cycling programme which provides specially adapted bikes for young people with disabilities or learning needs.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “This is very good news.

“Residents and visitors treasure the New Forest National Park’s rare and beautiful landscapes, its wildlife and commoning traditions, but congestion and pollution created by car journeys threaten these fragile landscapes and reduce the forest’s tranquillity.”

The £2.053m funding from the DfT will be match funded by £1.046m of contributions and support from local authorities and businesses.

Hampshire County Council's six partner authorities are East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, West Sussex County Council, Wiltshire Council, the New Forest National Park Authority and the South Downs National Park Authority.