Local bus operator Yeomans has provided notice that it intends to withdraw a large proportion of its commercial services in Hereford from 1 January 2022
Local bus operator Yeomans has provided notice that it intends to withdraw a large proportion of its commercial services in Hereford from 1 January 2022.
The council has held discussions with Yeomans to request that they delay their withdrawal of services until April 2022. This would provide time for the council and local operators to plan and put in place alternatives to ensure continuity of service for people currently reliant on Yeomans bus services. Yeomans have declined this request.
The council is holding discussions with other operators regarding replacing the withdrawn services, or putting in place alternatives on a commercial basis so that some continuity of service might be maintained. Due to the very limited timescales involved it is unclear if any operators will have sufficient time to put alternative services in place.
The council recently submitted an £18.3m funding bid to Department for Transport as part of the national bus strategy and hopes to receive additional funding to invest in buses from April 2022. Following the announcement made by Yeomans, the council has decided to bring forward plans for improvements to bus services and is requesting formal proposals from operators for an improved bus service for Hereford City. Depending on proposals and confirmation of funding from government it is hoped that new services could commence as soon as April 2022.
In the interim, the council will be seeking to tender some replacement services which will be in place from January 2022. This will guarantee the continuation of essential services, including school services, as the council progresses permanent proposals for the city network
Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said:
“The timing of the withdrawal of these commercially operated services is of great concern and does not appear to take into account the issues which will be faced by the people who use and rely on these services.
“We have been meeting with all of our local operators regularly since the beginning of the pandemic and more recently to develop proposals for an improved county network and it is disappointing that only minimum notice has been given for these significant changes”.
“There is a great deal of work to do now to try and ensure that we put some temporary services in place but also to seek comprehensive proposals from operators which match our ambitions for a much improved service for the city. We have provided operators with an outline of the elements we think are important including better buses, increased service frequency and operating hours, a strong customer focus and a clear commitment to promote services and increase patronage. I think that there are operators that share these ambitions and are keen to work in Hereford.”
How will this affect my journey?
The following routes are affected:
- 71/71A/71B – Credenhill - Hereford
- 71S – Credenhill – Whitecross School (School days)
- 72 – Bobblestock – Hereford
- 74 – Hereford – Newton Farm (Sunday service withdrawn)
- 74A – Hereford – Hunderton - Newton Farm
- 74S – Newton Farm - Hereford - Bishop's School (School days)
- 77A – Hereford - College Green - Holmer - Bobblestock circular
- 78A/78S – Skylon Park – Putson – Redhill (journeys serving Redhill withdrawn)
- 79A – Putson – Redhill – Hereford (peak hours)
- 88/88A – Hinton – Putson – The Pastures – Redhill (Saturday service withdrawn and all Monday-Friday journeys serving Redhill)
The withdrawals include school services from Credenhill to Whitecross school, and the City to Bishops school.
The council will be seeking to tender some replacement services which will be in place from January 2022. This will guarantee the continuation of essential services, including school services, as the council progresses permanent proposals for the city network
An update on alternative arrangements for school services will be provided through schools in early December.
Yeomans had already withdrawn the 75, 77, 81, and 81A services, and services to St Mary’s High school in September 2021.
Yeomans has provided the statutory minimum notice of 4 weeks to the council after which time it will provide the Traffic Commissioner with a further 6 weeks’ notice.
Further information can be found on the council website: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/public-transport-1/bus-travel/3
How is Herefordshire Council supporting bus travel in the county?
The covid pandemic has had a significant impact on bus patronage nationally. Herefordshire Council has supported local operators by funding them at 100% of their pre-covid rates for concessionary travel throughout 2020/21 and the current financial year. It has also facilitated direct grants from government which have aimed to supplement lost revenues (Covid Bus Services Support Grant).
As part of the council’s covid recovery plan there is free weekend bus travel for all journeys within Herefordshire, funded through the government’s covid recovery fund.
During 2021 the council has progressed development of the Bus Service Improvement Plan and submitted its proposals to Government with the aim of securing additional funds to support bus services from April 2022. Development of the plan has included public consultation and engagement with all of the local bus operators. The BSIP was submitted to government by the end of October 2021 as required by the national bus strategy and will be assessed and inform government funding for local buses for 2022/23 to 2024/25. Government has not confirmed when funding awards will be announced but it is hoped that this will be well before the end of the 2021/22 financial year to inform decision making about funding service improvements.