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Sidmouth Hopper Bus celebrates best-ever month

PUBLISHED: 11:00 24 August 2014

Pictured at the Sidmouth Hopper Bus launch in May are Alan Darrant, Sid Vale Association chairman, Town councillors John Dyson and  Jeff Turner, Steven Kendall-Torry, Dawn Vincent of Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary and new driver Mike Higgs. Photo by Simon Horn.

Pictured at the Sidmouth Hopper Bus launch in May are Alan Darrant, Sid Vale Association chairman, Town councillors John Dyson and Jeff Turner, Steven Kendall-Torry, Dawn Vincent of Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary and new driver Mike Higgs. Photo by Simon Horn.

Archant

‘WONDERFUL’ weather in July saw Sidmouth’s Hopper Bus enjoy its best-ever month.

The news – which driving forces have put down to scorching temperatures - comes hot on the heels of the summer service’s most successful overall stint in 2013.

And the popular bus is expected to give last year’s record figures a close run when it makes its final drop-off of the 2014 season on September 30.

A total of 4,418 passengers hopped on board the free-to-ride service in July compared to 4,163 in the corresponding period last year.

“We had a wonderful July. Quite simply this is down to the weather,” said town councillor and Hopper volunteer John Dyson.

“We had only one day I would classify as wet.”

The service receives crucial financial support from Sidmouth Town Council and more than 40 local businesses – which totalled £7,500 this year. That amount was matched by the Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund.

More than 15,7000 used the bus in 2013.

“I didn’t expect it to be exceeded for some time,” said Councillor Dyson.

“But, up to FolkWeek, we were only a very small amount – around one day’s passengers – short of what we were last year. Just shy of 10,000.

“We’ve had a significant number of letters of appreciation come through to the town council in one way or another – it is much appreciated.”

Cllr Dyson says the service receives ‘unanimous’ support from business sponsors and added: “If it were ever proposed to stop the bus, there would be uproar. It’s very encouraging.”

He said this May and June were not quite on the same par as the passenger numbers recorded in 2013.

New driver Chris Higgs, from Sidbury, has proven a big hit after taking over from the longstanding Jim Tucker.

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