Passengers offered extra free bus journeys

People in and around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden will be able to take advantage of an extra five days’ free travel on local bus services next week, courtesy of Metro and First.

The free offer, which has been in place since Sunday, June 17, has been extended until Friday, June 29 in recognition of the problems there have been providing replacement services since Tyrer Buses stopped running them on Saturday, June 16.

By Tuesday, June 19, the offer had collapsed into chaos as there were not enough buses to honour the scheme and all but one route had to be cancelled.

First, who take over the services from Sunday (June 24) and Metro have now agreed that passengers using Hebden Bridge services A, B, C, D and E and Todmorden services T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 T6, T8 & T9, FlexiBus services 1 and 2 and service 906 will be given free transport for an extra few days.

Dave Pearson, Metro’s assistant director, transport services, said: “Metro, First and Calderdale Community Transport stepped in to pick up services from Sunday but lack of vehicles and drivers available at such short notice has made it difficult to run the full Hebden Bridge and Todmorden networks. As a result we have agreed with First, which takes over the contract for running the services from this Sunday, to run them free for an extra five days.”

Metro announced the free services last week in recognition of the frustration and inconvenience passengers had experiencing with the local services over the past few weeks while it had been working to sort out the situation.

Bus stop timetables and local timetable leaflets with details of the new services from Monday, June 25, are being distributed and there are details on the Metro website at www.wymetro.com.

There will be no changes and fares will still be payable next week on Calder Valley services 1, 65, 392, 500, 517, 589, 590, 591, 591T, 592, 593, 594, 900, 901 and CT1.

Coun Janet Battye, who chaired a Calder Valley ward forum in Hebden Bridge on Tuesday, attended by Mr Pearson, said: “I am pleased that Dave Pearson was so apologetic about the problems with the local service over the last few months and, in particular, the breakdown in the service entirely this week despite their best efforts.

“It was important that he heard from local people – and there were over 30 people at the ward forum, many of whom had a lot to say – but was is even more important that Metro should ensure that these valued local bus services are regular and reliable. There are a lot of people who depend upon them every day. One older lady talked about not being able to get home until 8pm because the bus wasn’t running properly.

“The important of communicating information about the services was also emphasised and I hope that Metro have heard that and will do something about it.

“But it was also heartening to hear them say that they want to plan for the longer-term – the new contract with Metro is for three years – so that there is proper investment in these services and better quality buses. That’s what really matters.”