Ross-on-Wye, Newent, and Ledbury were left more isolated after the bus services connecting the towns and villages were axed in 2022, however starting from April the towns will now be reunited once more.
Businesses lost staff, children couldn’t get to school, and some people were so isolated it affected their employment.
So residents, councils, and businesses came together to raise start-up funding for the new 232 Daffodil Line bus.
After months of hard work, they were delighted to announce that the contract for the operation of the new bus service had been awarded to local operator DRM Bus, and the new service will start on Sunday, April 2.
The bus will run every two hours, seven days a week and will provide an evening service on Friday and Saturday. The route runs from Ledbury to Ross-on-Wye via Much Marcle, Dymock, Newent, Gorsley, and Upton Bishop.
The bus fare will be kept affordable, and concessionary passes will be accepted. The towns are determined to keep fares low, so everyone can afford to take the bus.
Ross-on-Wye, Newent, and Ledbury have always had close links and had good public transport connections.
There were regular buses for 70 years, and before that, a railway, the Daffodil Line. But in 2022, the bus company serving the communities decided they didn’t look like a great prospect for making profits post-pandemic and axed the buses connecting the towns and villages, despite it being a main route to the nearest train station.
“We couldn’t have got here without them,” said campaigner Clare Stone, referring to the support from Gloucestershire County Council Integrated Transport Unit who organised the tender process.
The main job for campaigners now, is to get as many people as possible to use the bus. The more passengers they have, the less support they will need in the future from donors and sponsors.
The towns have pledged to ensure that the new service has all the financial support it needs to get well established.
Fundraising continues, and they’ll continue to look for sponsorship and donations to help support the service.
This is a huge milestone for the towns, and they’re working with DRM Bus, a local operator with strong roots in the community and a reputation for quality service. Campaigners feel like the Daffodil Line is in safe hands. They’ve partnered with an established local bus company that will be running the service for them.
The towns are encouraging people to jump on board and enjoy the ride.
If everyone who lives along the Daffodil Line takes the bus just once a month, they’ll never be at risk of losing this vital connection between their communities again.
Much Marcle is an interesting addition to the Daffodil Line. For all the other communities along the route, the new 232 will replace bus services axed by Stagecoach back in February last year.
Much Marcle hasn’t had a regular bus service for quite some time, which is particularly inconvenient for residents, considering the size of the village and its location just off an A road.
When campaigners were doing trial runs for the new service they found that adding Much Marcle into the route put just four minutes onto the journey time and still allowed the bus to complete the Ross to Ledbury run in under an hour.
“So it seemed like it would be rude not to include Much Marcle in the route,” said campaigner Clare Stone.
A survey commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council revealed that the closure of bus routes had left a number of villages isolated with no buses and a lack of facilities within the villages themselves.
A devastating realisation that came out of the consultation was that the routes, which were relied upon for over 70 years with trains being used before that, were severed, severely changing the community’s way of life.
Clare Stone told the Gazette of how the public transport infrastructure fell into a state of disrepair as a result of bus routes not being advertised and promoted properly.