YEOMANS has blamed falling passenger number for its decision to slash the number of bus routes in runs in Hereford.

Herefordshire Council said 10 bus routes would be affected as Yeomans scrapped services, with the Old School Lane-based company also blaming out-of-town shopping centres and places of work.

Yeomans Travel, which said it had been a family-owned company for more than 100 years, said passenger numbers had halved since 2019 and it needed to take action to protect its future.

RELATED NEWS: Herefordshire Council speaks out as Yeomans scraps 'large' number of city bus services

It meant it was ditching most of its commercial bus services in the city of Hereford, with the last day being December 31.

Herefordshire Council said it had tried to persuade Yeomans to continue until April 2022, but it didn't agree.

The firm said in September 2015 it stepped in and kept bus services running when First closed its Hereford depot.

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First said that it was not viable to operate with such low passenger numbers.

Yeomans also said that Government support for bus companies ended in September, and while it had continued to operate services since, it was not sustainable any longer.

"In recent years, and especially since the start of the Covid pandemic, the number of passengers carried has been in slow decline as more people have bought cars and traffic congestion in the city has got steadily worse," the company said.

"The rise of out-of-town shopping and employment centres has also reduced demand for travel into the city centre.

"There have been no discussions with local operators about bus priority or traffic issues until recently when the Government unveiled a package to local councils to assist bus travel.

"We are now carrying only 50 per cent of the numbers of bus passengers that we were carrying in 2019 and this is unfortunately typical of bus services across the whole of England and like many others are also having to absorb the large increase in fuel costs."

While Yeomans Travel said that was aware that Herefordshire Council was working on a new bus strategy that would involve support for services across the county, but it had to "act now to protect the future of the company".

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In a statement, Yeomans criticised Herefordshire Council for not thanking them for stepping in with six weeks’ notice and solving the problems six years ago when First pulled its services.

"When we (the council) informed them, with the reasons behind it, they offered no assistance or asked what they could do to help other than to ask us to carry on until April," it said. 

"If it is not financially viable, why would we continue until then?"

It added: "When we informed them, with the reasons behind it, they offered no assistance or asked what they could do to help other than to ask us to carry on until April.

"If it is not financially viable, why would we continue until then?

"But it said there were going to be no job losses and it would still operate subsidised routes throughout the county."

The statement finished: "We would like to thank our staff for their hard work and passengers for their custom and support over the years but we cannot continue to operate something that is not commercially viable," the statement finished.

The following routes will be affected by the cancellations (click on the numbered links for an interactive map of the routes):

  • 71/71A/71B – Credenhill - Hereford
  • 71S – Credenhill – Whitecross School (School days)
  • 72 – Bobblestock – Hereford
  • 74 – Hereford – Newton Farm (Sunday service withdrawn)
  • 74A – Hereford – Hunderton - Newton Farm
  • 74S – Newton Farm - Hereford - Bishop's School (School days)
  • 77A – Hereford - College Green - Holmer - Bobblestock circular
  • 78A/78S – Skylon Park – Putson – Redhill (journeys serving Redhill withdrawn)
  • 79A – Putson – Redhill – Hereford (peak hours)
  • 88/88A – Hinton – Putson – The Pastures – Redhill (Saturday service withdrawn and all Monday-Friday journeys serving Redhill)

The council said it is holding discussions with other operators regarding replacing the withdrawn services, or putting in place alternatives on a commercial basis so that some continuity of service might be maintained.

Coun Harrington said: “The timing of the withdrawal of these commercially operated services is of great concern and does not appear to take into account the issues which will be faced by the people who use and rely on these services.

“We have been meeting with all of our local operators regularly since the beginning of Covid and more recently to develop proposals for an improved county network and it is disappointing that only minimum notice has been given for these significant changes.

“There is great deal of work to do now to try and ensure that we put some temporary services in place but also to seek comprehensive proposals from operators which match our ambitions for a much improved service for the city."