15,000th passenger for the Hopper Bus

The Revd Handel Bennett is pictured presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mary Buckley with cllr John D

The Revd Handel Bennett is pictured presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mary Buckley with cllr John Dyson and driver Carol Lockton on being the 15,000th Hopper Bus customer. Ref shs 2244-39-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

The 15,000th passenger of the season on a shuttle that takes tourists and residents around the Sid Valley was a 90-year-old who uses it on a daily basis.

Mary Buckley was met by town councillor John Dyson as she stepped aboard the Hopper Bus, which is on track to match last year’s numbers.

The £22,000 service is funded in thirds by the business community, the town council and the Sid Vale Association (SVA), from its Keith Owen Fund.

Councillor Dyson said: “The overall numbers on the bus look as though they are going to be similar to last year, in spite of more variable weather, and we are pleased with that result.

“Recently it’s been questioned as to whether the Hopper should be free. If we charged it would take longer to get people on the bus and slow things down.

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“More importantly, we would have to register the service with the traffic commissioners, which is costly, bureaucratic and time-consuming for a service that needs to be flexible in order to develop and provide the best service for the town.”

The SVA has backed the Hopper for six years. Its president, Handel Bennett, said: “We are enthusiastic about it – we see it as a valuable amenity for the resort in serving both tourists and residents.

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“We have to keep the economy of this town alive. If the town is not kept busy it won’t survive.”

The Hopper’s season finished on Wednesdsay.

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