Sidmouth Hopper Bus returns to town

Sidmouth Town Councillor Kelvin Dent. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7921-29-13AW

Sidmouth Town Councillor Kelvin Dent. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7921-29-13AW - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth’s sights will be showcased to the young and old alike when the Hopper Bus rolls back into town for its first trip of the year this weekend.

The service will ride again for the first time in 2018 but passengers have been warned to ‘use it, or lose it’ or this could be the last year the beloved bus continues to run.

Those were the warning words issued by Sidmouth Town Council (STC), following an announcement, at the beginning of this year, that the service’s running cost would increase by more than 50 per cent in 2018.

The seasonal hail-and-ride service will be stopping and picking up passengers anywhere it is safe to do so, everyday throughout the summer from tomorrow (Saturday) - except during Folk Week.

The bus’ route will run between Muttersmoor, the Triangle around the Three-Cornered Plot, the Donkey Sanctuary and the caravan parks beyond Salcombe Hill.

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STC which organises the service has urged residents and visitors alike to take advantage of the popular tourist facility which is under scrutiny for 2018.

Sharply rising costs have thrown the future of the Hopper Bus into uncertainty and the service is now under review for 2019 onwards.

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The message to visitors and locals alike from the Town Clerk Christopher Holland is “use it or lose it”.

The formerly free service was the brainchild of Cllr Tony Reed and Tom Cox, who wanted to help reduce parking pressures and boost business and tourism in the Sid Valley.

When it was first launched, it helped to transport between 2,000 and 3,000 people a year, but last year it carried more than 20,000 visitors.

This is the first year that the service will be charging fares – a single fare is £1 for adults and 50p for children.

The Hopper Bus is gratefully sponsored by several local businesses which help the authority to pay for the service which this year will be operated by Dartline Coaches.

Councillor Kelvin Dent, who co-ordinates the service and has used the bus himself on a number of occasions, said that the Hopper Bus was an ideal way to start or finish a ramble.

He added: “There are wonderful walks around Muttersmoor and Peak Hill or between Salcombe Hill and Sidmouth.”

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