COUNCIL chiefs have hailed the free day of festive bus travel in Worcester as a big hit with city shoppers and out-of-town visitors.
A total of 6,978 passengers who would normally have had to pay for bus travel took advantage of the offer, jointly run by Worcester City Council and First Bus.
That’s a 20 per cent increase on the equivalent Saturday in pre-pandemic 2019 and 26 per cent more than the number of paying passengers using First Bus services in Worcester the week before.
The free Christmas bus brought shoppers pouring into the city centre from far and wide to pick up presents from Worcester’s unique combination of big-name chains and independent stores, as well as the special Fine Food and Gift Markets held in High Street on the day.
The most popular bus route on the day was the 32, bringing passengers from Baynhall and St Peter’s into the city centre. This saw an uplift of 57 per cent compared to the previous Saturday.
Close behind were routes 44, bringing in passengers from Great Malvern, Powick and Lower Wick, which saw a 45 per cent week-on-week increase, and the X50 which goes between Evesham, Pershore and Worcester, and which saw a 36 per cent uplift in passengers.
Coun Lynn Denham, vice chair of the City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, said: “It is great to see this new idea has brought festive joy to both Worcester residents and shoppers coming into our city from other destinations.
“Thousands of people headed into the city on the free Christmas buses, many choosing to leave the car at home. In the process, we also brought extra seasonal cheer to Worcester’s many shops and independent traders.”
Rob Pymm, commercial director at First West of England, said: “We’re delighted the free travel day was such a success. The City Council’s focus on the bus as a great form of sustainable transport is really welcome, and with their support, we were really happy to be able to give so many people a free ride.”
In addition to the 6,978 passengers who would normally have had to pay for a ticket, there were also 2,234 people with free concessionary bus passes who used First Bus services in Worcester on Saturday, December 10.