• Gareth Davies

Covid & Lockdown Drive a Big hole Through Herefordshire’s LTP Public Transport Strategy. August 2020

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Such a core network is based on services that operate between the market towns, larger villages and Hereford on a regular pattern during the day Monday to Saturday.

Since lockdown the core network has become seriously distorted, especially in terms of bus service frequency. Kington, the smallest market town in Herefordshire has returned to an hourly service supported by Herefordshire Council. Ross-on-Wye also has returned to an hourly service operated commercially by Stagecoach West. In comparison the 476 Ledbury-Hereford service remains at two hourly, the 492 Leominster-Hereford operates at a pathetic five journeys a day instead of hourly and the Hereford-Bromyard service is down to six journeys.. Similarly the Madley service remains at a low five journeys instead of hourly, the X3 Hereford-Abergavenny remains at four journeys and the T14 Hereford-Hay-on-Wye at only three journeys.

Clearly, this is a pathetic state of affairs for the travelling public. What chance is there of restoring confidence in the bus network and rebuilding patronage when such paltry frequencies remain. Frequency and fares are the two main factors in encouraging people to use the bus services. Low frequencies and high fares sound the death knell of the core network and the rapid move towards Herefordshire becoming a public transport desert.

The big question now being asked is: as bus operators are getting bail outs from central government, getting paid pre Covid concessionary fares reimbursement and still being able to claim Bus Service Operators Grant for pre-Covid mileage, should they now be putting services back to pre-Covid levels? However, there seems no indication from operators that this this is going to happen, this year, next year or even at all.

To maintain and protect the core network as indicated in the Local Transport Plan, it is clear that intervention by Herefordshire Council under the 1986 Deregulation Act is needed. Such intervention is becoming a matter of urgency.

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