A FREE bus service in Leicester city centre is proving to be a hit with an average of 1,000 passenger journeys per day made on the route.
The Hop! Bus service was launched in April 2023 as part of the city’s Greenlines electric bus programme, providing a free to use shuttle service to key locations around the city centre including Highcross, Leicester Market, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Jubilee Square and Leicester Station.
It is estimated that by September – five months since its launch – 100,000 passenger journeys will have been made on the route.
But it is not just commuters using the Hop! free electric bus.
In June, members of the real ale organisation Camra used the service for its “Hoppy Afternoon” pub crawl, with the route forming a convenient circuit of some of the city’s real ale pubs.
Three zero-emission green Hop! buses – each of which features a distinctive frog “ribbit” effect bell – seat 21 passengers and operate every 10 minutes on an anti-clockwise loop, with 12 stops along the route.
Running from 8am-6pm from Monday to Saturday, the new buses are fitted with electronic information displays, next stop announcements, WiFi and USB charging at each seat, with each of the stops offering real-time information displays and text-to-speech facilities.
The city council launched the free service on an 18-month trial basis as one of its Leicester Buses Partnership commitments. The Leicester Buses Partnership was launched in April 2022 to bring together all the local bus operators and Leicester City Council, to work jointly on addressing both the city’s transport needs and its environmental responsibilities.
Deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “I’m glad to see that the Hop! service is proving to be so popular, with an average of 1,000 passenger journeys every day.
“It was designed as an easily accessible, free, sustainable transport option connecting parts of the city centre that people want to get to, and the passengers numbers suggest that a great number of people are finding it a very useful addition to the city’s public transport system.
“It’s very promising to see, as with the example of Camra’s pub crawl, that people are using it as a way to travel between Leicester’s attractions easily and freely.”
Three fully-accessible zero-emission electric midi buses, costing around £1million, have been purchased for the Hop! scheme, thanks to a successful bid for funding from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund.
The Hop! buses are the latest addition to Leicester’s growing fleet of clean, green electric buses and are part of the city council’s commitment to addressing the climate emergency, with the city’s whole bus network due to be fully electric or zero-emission by 2030.
Centrebus operate the service, with the city council funding the scheme and its promotion with a budget of around £325,000.
Head of Business Development for Centrebus Limited, Keith Myatt, added: “We are very proud to work in partnership with Leicester City Council in the delivery of the Hop! service and we are of course very pleased to see the exceptional growth in patronage on the service since it commenced operation.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the numbers of customers travelling on the Hop! service continue to grow. The route of the Hop! service makes travelling around the city so simple and easy and it is encouraging to see groups of people taking advantage of the ease of travelling on the Hop! to visit the many attractions the city has to offer.”
More information about Hop! is available at www.leicesterbuses.co.uk/hop