The Daffodil Line
Last spring, the new Daffodil Line Bus Service began, connecting Ledbury with Newent, Ross on Wye, and the villages in between.
The 232 bus service is running thanks to the work of Buses4Us, a community group that stepped in when a regular bus service linking these places was cut at short notice.
‘The towns and villages in this area have close social, cultural, and economic links going back more than a century’ says Clare Stone, the Chair of Buses4Us. ‘Last year at the end of February, we were informed the company running the local bus service planned to end it’ continues Clare. ‘Places along the route had always had a bus service were suddenly left with no public transport access to doctors, shops and other local services. It even affected families whose children travelled to high school in Ledbury from Newent and Dymock’.
Buses4Us approached local councils to find out what level of financial support was available to re-start the bus service and then figured out ways to raise the rest of the money. In the event, the support of town and parish councils proved crucial. Several local businesses also stepped in, offering sponsorship to get the service going.
‘We figured out that if we did the same as the service that failed, we might fail again. We decided to enlist the help of specialists such as Professor Les Lumsden, a travel and tourism expert, who joined our steering group. We also had valuable support from Rail and Bus for Herefordshire. It was clear we needed to aim the service not only at local people, but also the leisure and visitor market.’
As well as creating an events calendar to attract visitors to the area, the introduction of an evening service on Fridays and Saturdays proved popular for local people heading out. The bus has even been ‘standing room only’ when the music festival in Linton took place back in the summer!
As work takes place to keep the service viable, statistics show that so far, its 1,400 trips have carried almost 21,000 passengers. Buses4Us are keen to show the economic benefits of the service. Passengers spend an average of £38.80 at their destinations, meaning that in the first six months of service, £405,000 entered the local economy. It’s also reducing traffic; passenger surveys show that 42 percent of passengers on the bus had access to a car, but chose public transport instead.
‘At the moment we rely on some financial support from town and parish councils, but if all goes to plan the service should eventually be covered by fares and support from the county councils’ says Clare. ‘If you’d like to find out more, visit our website and sign up for the newsletter.’
You can read more about the service and see the latest timetable at the Daffodil Line website: daffodilline.co.uk