Community action to keep Hay Ho! buses running

A local group has taken action to keep a bus service running between Hereford and Hay-on-Wye on Sundays and Bank Holidays: The Hay Tourism Group has joined with partners Rail for Herefordshire, Herefordshire Ramblers and Hay Chamber of Commerce to run a bus service between Hay-on-Wye and Hereford on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays which will be known as the Hay Ho! route.

Hay Town Council supports the project in principle and is currently looking at ways it can materially support the bus.  The service will be contracted by the passenger transport team at Herefordshire Council. The innovative project is the result of a study commissioned by the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority Rural Alliances Project. Rural Alliances is co-funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NW E programme, Welsh Government’s Targeted Match Fund and the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority.

The study recognised the need to bring together community groups concerned about the withdrawal of the current 39A Sunday bus. These concerns were further highlighted at a public meeting in Hay-on-Wye last month.   Evidence suggests that visitors want to stay in Hay and its surrounding areas for weekend breaks and catch a bus back on Sundays to connect with trains to London, the Midlands and the North.   Local tourism operators feel that there is also an untapped market for day visitors to Hay where many of the shops are open all day and throughout the year. Local people will also benefit from the continuing bus service.

Hay Tourism Group is one of 12 Rural Alliance groups across the National Park. Anna Heywood of the Hay Tourism Group comments:

“Our tourist information staff get many requests about travelling to Hereford on Sundays, and we are keen to tie the new bus service in with our events such as the Hay Walking Festival and Hay Bike Fest. Our vision is to make the bus an integral  part of the tourist experience; the chance to look at the scenery during the wonderful ride through the Golden Valley to Hay is as good an introduction to our area as you’ll get.”

The new bus service which replaces in part the current 39A Hereford to Brecon route is  due to start on Sunday October 5th  .There will be three buses per day leaving Hereford for Hay at 1010,1310, and 1610. Return trips from Hay are scheduled for 1150, 1450 and 1720. The bus will serve the villages of Clehonger, Kingstone, Madley, Vowchurch, Peterchurch and Dorstone. Les Lumsdon from Rail For Herefordshire says:

“ This is an innovative approach where groups and communities get to plan the timetable and fares. We’ll be offering day tickets for individuals and families, for example, and looking at cheaper single fares to attract young people on board. We’ve decided to call it the Hay Ho! bus as we want it to be a fun and enjoyable way to get between Hereford and Hay.