Les Lumsdon explains why a users’ group has teamed up with Arriva Midlands and Shropshire County council to help promote scenic route connecting two market towns. The 576 bus operates six days a week via the lanes and villages between Shrewsbury and Oswestry. It has been chosen for a trial to encourage more passengers on board because it links two attractive destinations, offers a scenic ride through pleasant countryside, is ideal for local walks from the villages and is sufficiently frequent to allow people to hop on and off at different places.

Arriva Midlands has improved publicity by printing bus posters and leaflets and Shropshire council is updating information cases on the route. Bus Users Shropshire will be talking to passengers over the summer months and encouraging the use of the service.

Jamie Crowsley, GM of Arriva Midlands commented ‘We really welcome this project which seeks to get more people on board a rural bus’. James Willocks, Shropshire Council transport commissioning manager adds ‘if the project is successful we’ll look at applying a similar approach to other routes across Shropshire which we support. We’ll be monitoring the results and see what lessons can be learned by this three way partnership approach’.

Food for thought here in respect of Herefordshire rural services. Rail & Bus for Herefordshire has constantly maintained that partnerships is the way forward in the drive to save rural bus services. The 2017 Buses Act features partnerships as the way forward and provides guidance on the approach. Some proactive trial projects in Herefordshire would not go amiss.