A FREE electric bus service that will connect transport hubs, shopping areas and visitor attractions in Leicester city centre will be introduced next month, making it much easier for people – especially those with mobility difficulties – to get around.
From Monday 3 April, the new Greenlines Hop! service will link the train station with the city’s bus stations and destinations including Leicester Market, the Highcross shopping centre, the King Richard III Visitor Centre, the LRI and Mandela Park.
Three zero-emission green buses – each seating 21 passengers – will operate every 10 minutes on an anti-clockwise loop, with 12 stops along the route.
Running from 8am-6pm from Monday to Saturday, the new buses will be fitted with electronic information displays, next stop announcements, WiFi and USB charging at each seat, while each of the stops will offer real-time information displays and text-to-speech facilities.
Branded with a friendly frog motif, the Hop! buses will also have a unique sound, as all three buses have been fitted with a distinctive ‘ribbit’-effect bell.
The city council will launch the free service on an 18-month trial basis as one of its Leicester Buses Partnership commitments.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke said: “The new Hop! service will provide people with an easily accessible, free, green, transport option that connects key sites around the city centre, with bus stops conveniently close to Leicester’s pedestrian zone.
“We’re proud of our city centre and want those who might struggle to access it, including older residents and people with mobility problems, to be able to enjoy all it has to offer, sustainably.
“The new Hop! buses will also be useful for visitors, with their circular route providing a good introduction to Leicester and its attractions for those who are new to the city.
“These new zero-emission buses will be the latest addition to Leicester’s growing fleet of clean, green electric buses and are part of our commitment to addressing the climate emergency, with the city’s whole bus network due to be fully electric or zero-emission by 2030.”
Three fully-accessible zero-emission electric midi buses, costing around £1million, have been purchased for the Hop! scheme, thanks to a successful bid for funding from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund.
Centrebus have been contracted to operate the service, with the city council funding the scheme and its promotion with a budget of around £325,000.
David Brookes, commercial and operations director at Centrebus, said: “Hop! will be the latest addition to the ever-increasing network of electric bus routes in Leicester. It will not only provide a new and sustainable way to get around the city centre, but will also contribute to better air quality and reduce carbon emissions.
“Centrebus are proud to be working with the city council on this project. We hope the service will prove popular with passengers and we’re excited to launch these new electric vehicles in the city centre.”
Louise Collins, senior stakeholder manager for independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Transport Focus welcomes the launch of Hop! services by Leicester Buses Partnership, providing free bus services around Leicester city centre.
This is a great initiative that gives passengers what they want – a frequent and reliable service that links key transport hubs with popular destinations.
“This will go a long way to help people see that buses are an attractive way to make journeys that are good for air quality and the environment.”
More information about Hop! is available at leicesterbuses.co.uk/hop