Mixed news for weekend bus users in towns close to Shropshire border

Some of the Sunday bus services that were introduced in the Leominster area during the Covid lockdown are set to be axed at the end of next month.

Herefordshire Council's Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, Councillor John Harrington
Herefordshire Council's Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, Councillor John Harrington

Sunday services were introduced by Herefordshire Council, which covers the area close to the Shropshire border, using Covid recovery fund cash which runs out at the end of August.

A council bid for £18 million from the Government for the council's Bus service Improvement Plan have been rejected but Herefordshire leaders say they want to work with bus operators to improve services.

Sunday services that were not well-used under the so-called Bus-It scheme will end on Sunday, August 28, including the 401 and 496, both operated by Lugg Valley.

The 401 is the Leominster Town Service via Barons Cross and the 496 is the Pembridge - Leominster Circular Service via Mortimers Cross, Shobdon, Eardisland and Kingsland.

There is good news for users of the 426/492 combined service from Leominster - via Bodenham to Hereford as that has proved to be popular and the council is continuing to keep it going. Others being supported into the autumn is the 461 Kington to Hereford.

The council has also announced that its free weekend bus travel scheme used by thousands of people will also be coming to an end. Some operators will continue to offer fare promotions at weekends once the scheme ends.

Councillor John Harrington, the council's cabinet member transport and infrastructure said: “We introduced free weekend bus travel to encourage people back onto public transport to visit new places following the pandemic to help support residents and the local economy.

"I have heard many stories of individuals, friends and families taking advantage of the Bus-It scheme to events or facilities around the county and boost the local economy.

"I hope that people have enjoyed using the scheme and found that there are alternatives to using the car, sitting back and taking in the scenery as they travel around our beautiful county."

He added: “We knew we couldn’t afford to fund the scheme in the longer term, unfortunately.

"It is bitterly disappointing that the government rejected our £18 million bid for our Bus Service Improvement Plan – and the bids of two thirds of all the councils that bid - to provide a really comprehensive and affordable bus service within Herefordshire but we are continuing to consider ways we can work with our valued local bus operators to improve our local bus services to make them a more convenient and attractive way to travel.”

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