Flowers for 10,000th Sidmouth Hopper bus passenger

Extending Hopper route to take in Donkey Sanctuary proves popular move

MORE passengers than ever have used Sidmouth’s Hopper bus this year.

On Monday the 10,000th customer, Madge Foley from Bardsley, Oldham, was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Town Council chairman, Councillor Peter Sullivan, as she and husband Terry boarded the bus at The Triangle. They have been visiting Sidmouth since 1989.

“We have never done that before, it shows how many more passengers we have had with good weather,” said Hopper bus co-ordinator and working party chairman, Town Councillor John Dyson.

He said the introduction of four trips a day to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary this year had been an extra draw and had opened up the route to a number of caravan centres beyond Salcombe Hill.

“Salcombe Regis has also benefited from this,” he added.

“That little bit extra has opening it out for quite a number of potential users beyond the Observatory.”

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He had been concerned taking in the Donkey Sanctuary might have pushed the route too far, but said the four journeys a day had worked well.

Mr Dyson said the summer Hopper had started in 2003 thanks to former town council chairman Tom Cox.

In the first year there were 4,000 users and in the second 7,000. When two buses were introduced numbers reached 13,000, but the highest recorded number for a single bus had been, until this summer, around 9,000.

By the end of September, when the service ends for another year, he expects 11,000 residents and holidaymakers will have used the Hopper. He said taxpayers were getting “real value for money” with the free service, which is being funded more and more by local businesses in the town.

“I would love to run it for longer but it is a matter of funds. We are not going to overreach ourselves with the resources we have got.”

Mr Dyson said he was on the lookout for someone interested in the Hopper service to come forward to be its co-ordinator, and offered his help for a year to give them support.

He added: “On behalf of the Hopper bus working party, I should like to thank all those organisations who have supported us this year.”

These are: Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council, Sid Vale Association, SVA Keith Owen Fund, The World Heritage Site Fund (Devon County Council), Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth & District Hospitality Association, Westcliff Hotel, Sidmouth Hotels Ltd., Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, Salcombe Regis Caravan Park, Fields, The Clock Tower Restaurant, Delderfields, 4Homes, Flo & Us, Trumps and The Sidmouth Herald.