Shropshire Star

Just the ticket! Rural Shropshire bus route attracting more passengers

Bus routes across the countryside are being lost as operations blame a drop in passengers.

The 576 from Shrewsbury to Oswestry

But in Shropshire a bus that meanders along small roads and through villages has seen a rises in passengers of five per cent.

Its success has led to a users group urging Shropshire Council not to cut its budget for buses but instead use low cost marketing to encourage more passengers.

The council is proposing to cut the bus support budget by £405,000 in 2019 which Bus Users Shropshire says will cause major hardship.

The users group joined forces with Arriva Bus and Shropshire Council to see if it was possible to boost the use of a supported rural bus service, the 576 from Shrewsbury to Oswestry.

A slower 576 service travels, not along the A5 as the Express service does, but takes in the communities of Bomere Heath, Baschurch, Ruyton XI Towns, Kinnerley, Knockin and Maesbury Marsh.


A six month project in the summer and autumn saw a five per cent overall increase in passenger numbers compared with the same months a year before.

Those behind the scheme said the route was chosen for a trial to encourage more passengers on board because it links two attractive destinations, Shrewsbury and Oswestry, offers a scenic ride through pleasant countryside, is ideal for local walks from the villages and is sufficiently frequent to allow people to hop on and off at different places.

Bus Users Shropshire spoke to over 100 passengers who use the service. Arriva Bus improved publicity by printing bus posters and timetable leaflets and Shropshire Council updated information cases on the route.

Harold Bound, Chairman of Arriva Bus Users Shropshire said: “The current proposal being considered by Shropshire Council is to cut the bus support budget by £405,000 in 2019 and this is expected to bring more hardship. This project, however, shows that there is another way to reduce the cost to the council, simply by applying low cost marketing.

" Getting the community behind their service, offering additional timetable information and a drip feed of promotion were the key ingredients and we managed to get more people on board. There's still plenty to do to continue this success.”

The report recommends that all parish and town councils have a role to play in promoting their local bus service as a community asset like the other facilities in their areas. It also argues that Shropshire Council needs to look at ways to reduce congestion so as to improve the reliability of buses as well as to review its approach to publicity of bus services.

Why we love the 576

The scenic route is the best route according to some riders of the 576, writes Sue Austin.

On a cold wet January day I had half expected the 10.45am 576 bus from Oswestry to Shrewsbury to be empty.

But how wrong I was.

Passengers boarded the Arriva bus all along its route, people of all ages and with a multitude of reasons to be taking their journey.

And they all agreed that the route was not only a lifeline for the various villages but also one of the most picturesque in the area.

Anne Miles is a regular passenger travelling to Oswestry from her home in Coton Hill, Shrewsbury.

The 83-year-old first visited the town for treatment at the Orthopaedic Hospital and fell in love with Oswestry.

"I would like to move there," she said.

"I visit perhaps twice a week, to shop, to enjoy the history of the town and visiting the library. Sometimes I use the express bus on the A5 but especially in the summer I used the slower bus because the scenery is so beautiful. I would urge other older people with bus passes to use it and have a day out."

Anne Miles

Hilary Martin, 66, is from Maesbury, just outside Oswestry, and first used the bus when she broke her wrist and couldn't drive.

"I'm going into Shrewsbury today. The cost of car parking is so expensive there," she said.

"I make an effort to support the bus route - people will moan when it's no longer there. I have even gone on the bus into Oswestry and walked home."

Newcomer to Shropshire Caroline Shortt was taking her first trip on the bus from Ruyton-XI-Towns with her mother, Audrey Walker.

"We are exploring and I wanted to see how easily it would be to get to my new doctors' surgery in Baschurch on the bus. I've found out that on this bus it really is very easy."

Caroline Shortt and Audrey Walker

For Greg Fowler from Dovaston the bus really is a lifeline. He doesn't drive and says the bus allows him to get to Shrewsbury where he can then use other buses and the train. And Matt Herbert depends on the bus to get into work in Shrewsbury.

College student Evie Forester said a large number of teenagers used the 576 bus each day, to get from the villages into lessons, although to get to the Shrewsbury Colleges Group campus on London Road she has to change buses at the bus station.

Evie Forester