Hereford’s new Zipper electric buses have drawn “a wave of irrational negativity” – but they have faced genuine problems.

A report by the city council’s clerk Steve Kerry for tonight’s (January 30) full city council meeting says the free bus service it has operated around the city for two months now has “undoubtedly raised the profile of the council to a previously unknown level”.

But it has brought “a wholly predictable, if disappointing, wave of somewhat irrational negativity”, with complaints that the services do not serve the city suburbs or even outlying towns.


The £2.4 million investment in the service, three-quarters of it paid for from the government’s Stronger Towns Fund, has also brought complaints that the cash “would have been better spent on potholes, which is said about just about every council spending decision in the country regardless of the source and purpose of the money”, Mr Kerry’s report says.

But he acknowledged there has been “recent disruption” to the service – not helped by the city's three-strong fleet being among only six Yutong E9 buses in the country, he adds.

“When a glass door panel was damaged on one of the buses, it took several weeks to bring in a replacement,” he explains, while a decision to use a stand-in diesel bus from operator Yeomans’ fleet “was not surprisingly criticised”.

Such risks to the council, which also include IT security, fraud and the council’s allotments, are nonetheless “reasonable for a public body to take”, according to Mr Kerry, who is stepping down from the role shortly.

From next Monday (February 4), a new stop at Newmarket Street will be added to the service's looping route.