A RECORD number of people are using two eco-friendly schemes that aim to cut the number of car journeys in the New Forest.

The National Park Authority (NPA) has revealed that the popularity of the Beach Bus service and the award-winning New Forest Tour are at an all-time high.

Figures show that twice as many passengers caught the Beach Bus in its first week compared with the same period last year.

The daily summer service from Hythe to Lepe, Lymington and Beaulieu is proving popular with residents and visitors alike, thanks to a free ferry link from Southampton and 20 per cent discounts at attractions such as Buckler’s Hard.

A NPA spokesman said 1,552 passengers used the service between July 26 and August 1 compared with 719 in 2013.

He added that the New Forest Tour had so far attracted 15,977 passengers compared with 15,388 in the same period last year.

A record 40,600 people used the service in 2013 – and this year’s figure looks set to be even higher.

The spokesman said: “Numbers for the green route are significantly higher thanks to a new link with Hythe ferry, while the red route has benefited from new stops at New Forest Wildlife Park and Longdown Activity Farm.

“The timetable for the blue route along the coast has also been revised. All routes now run eight times a day, seven days a week.”

Those using the New Forest Tour can take their bikes on the bus.

Cllr Edward Heron, deputy chairman of the NPA and deputy leader of the district council, said: “The figures show that by providing a better experience, better value and regular services you can encourage residents and visitors to swap their cars for greener forms of transport.”

Last year the New Forest Tour saved about 223,000 car miles.

The Beach Bus and New Forest Tour are both provided by More buses and Bluestar. The services are due to run until August 31 and September 14 respectively.