Harpenden residents hop on board new bus service

PUBLISHED: 13:30 14 October 2016

The team behind the Harpenden Hopper initiative

The team behind the Harpenden Hopper initiative

photo supplied

Harpenden residents are hailing - literally - a new community bus service being launched in parts of the town to help tackle social isolation.

Harpenden Hopper initiative: From left, Cllr Teresa Heritage,Town Mayor Nicola Linacre and Andy BuchananHarpenden Hopper initiative: From left, Cllr Teresa Heritage,Town Mayor Nicola Linacre and Andy Buchanan

On Sunday, September 25, the Mayor of Harpenden, Cllr Nicola Linacre, unveiled the Harpenden Hopper, a community bus service running soon in parts of the town in a 12-month pilot.

The idea for the proposed community-based transport began a few years ago, during a discussion between businessman and local church member Andy Buchanan and the then Mayor, Cllr Rosemary Farmer.

Andy spoke about how he and fellow residents, who live and work in Harpenden, as well as being members of local churches and charities, could serve the town in more tangible ways, and to help solve some of the issues the town faced.

Rosemary and Cllr Teresa Heritage explained how there were areas of Harpenden that were not well served by public transport which could lead to people becoming isolated.

Thus the ‘Harpenden Hopper’ team was formed, and local residents set about exploring how to set up a community bus service.

The recent launch was the culmination of nearly three years of hard work in setting up a registered charity called Harpenden Connect, to run the Harpenden Hopper using volunteer drivers.

Initially the service - hoped to start by the end of this year - will run as a 12-month pilot to gauge the level of demand and need.

The first route, which will be a “hail and ride” service, will have pick up points around the Roundwood area and travel into Harpenden via the Memorial Hospital, the station, the three doctor surgeries, and then onto Church Green.

Operating as a hop on and hop off service, it will allow passengers to access the service anywhere on the route, and will then do the same route in reverse.

Cllr Heritage said it is anticipated that it will run three days a week between 9.30am and 4.30pm, when it starts within the next three months.

• If residents want more information or would like to volunteer as drivers, or give donations, please see www.harpendenhopper.co.uk or email: hopon@harpendenhopper.co.uk

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