AFTER councillors defended Hereford’s Zipper electric buses from ‘a wave of irrational negativity', I went to find out what people really think of the new service.

A report by the city council’s clerk Steve Kerry said that the introduction of the free, electric bus service had brought about "a wholly predictable, if disappointing, wave of somewhat irrational negativity", causing a number of councillors including Coun Cat Hornsey and former city mayor Coun Paul Stevens to come to the defence of the Zipper at a council meeting on January 30.

I caught a Zipper bus with our freelance photographer Rob Davis at around 2 pm on the same day as the meeting in hopes of interviewing passengers to find out their opinions, and to see whether they agreed with the criticism of the service.

Unfortunately, despite sitting on the bus for the entirety of its route, I couldn’t find anyone willing to talk. 

In fact, for vast portions of the journey, we were the only passengers on board.

Following my unsuccessful trip, I headed to social media to get a grasp of what locals thought, and I quickly received over 70 responses.


Brita Sensicall said: “We haven't used the Zipper buses as they don't come near us.

“The zipper buses should go into the countryside and round the villages.

 “At the moment three buses on the same, limited route seems excessive. I suppose the route has to be as it is to avoid stepping on the toes of fee-paying buses.

“Passengers who can use the Zippers are favoured over those that can't. That is bad.

“Hereford roads desperately need attention and not just potholes filled, proper surfacing is needed.”

The limited range of the Zippers was one of the most commonly repeated criticisms that I saw. 

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Jess Smith said: “I’ve been on them with my work.

“They need to go further afield for anyone to make use of them like Bobblestock, Whitecross, college area, Tupsley, Newton farm, Belmont, etcetera.

“They also need to be put on for evenings and not just until 4.30pm, as right now money is just being wasted for empty buses to be going round.”

Plenty of people were positive about the service, however, and saw the benefits the Zipper could bring to the city.

“Incorporating a park and ride would be a brilliant idea,” said Laura Sommerville.

“I know several mums who use the Zipper regularly with small children instead of using a car. And it's been really handy for elderly people getting to the medical centre or the library.

“We do need a better rural bus service but that is not down to the city council.

“Why knock something that's free?”

Diane Smith said: “I enjoyed using it from Asda to the hospital area. Very good.

“I think they will get used more as people start getting used to the idea.

“I am very grateful for the service.”