Hopper bus rolls on Uppingham’s streets
It was a day of celebration in Uppingham yesterday after the town’s new Hopper service finally welcomed its first passengers.
The new 13-seat, £32,000 community bus service was unveiled to the public outside Uppingham’ Surgery to great fanfare by Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, Dr Sarah Furness and marks the end of a long public campaign to secure the service and buy the bus.
Dr Sarah Furness said: “I am delighted to launch the new, permanent, Uppingham Hopper bus service.
It is a tribute to the strong community spirit and determination of Uppingham and Rutland that this is possible.
“This service not only manifests great community spirit, it also recognises community need.
“It helps everyone in Uppingham, but particularly helps an ageing population face the challenges of getting to the shops and surgery without having to be dependent on driving their own cars.
“The service shows foresight. There are already more than 300 people in Uppingham aged 80 or over and this is set to rise in the next 20 years. Being able to hop on and off the bus may well mean that older people can remain happily living independently in the community.”
Uppingham First chair Robert Willis said: “We are delighted to be launching this much-needed community transport scheme in Uppingham.
“Outstanding collaboration between the voluntary, business and local government sectors, supported by more than 200 individual citizens and their contributions, have made the service possible.
“Delivery of the project has been a real team effort and once again Uppingham has demonstrated it is a great place to live, work and visit.”
Uppingham mayor Alec Crombie said: “This is great for the town and the people who rely on it.
“We have been without it for a year now, and it will be a lifeline for many.
“For folk with a disability or infirmity the greatest challenge is loss of independence, and our town’s Hopper can do much to meet this challenge. I rejoice in its return.”
Uppingham First initially began running its own Hopper service as part of a six-month pilot scheme, and its figure-of-eight route connecting the High Street to the doctor’s surgery and the town’s schools and quickly became a lifeline for many residents.
However, the trial failed to secure permanent backing from Rutland County Council, so Uppingham First began fund-raising to buy and run a bus of its own. The group raised £20,000 to buy the bus and took a £25,000 interest free loan from Rutland County Council to make it suitable for its new role as the town’s Hopper.
The service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and will funded by donations.