A seasonal bus service in the Hope Valley has been cancelled for 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Hope Valley Explorer was scheduled to begin running at the end of May. The service had been successfully introduced last year, funded as a pilot scheme by the Peak District National Park Authority and operated by Stagecoach.
David Marsden, Transport Policy Officer for the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “It’s with great disappointment that we have to announce that the Hope Valley Explorer bus service will not run this summer.
“However, it is critical that we help keep everyone safe during the coronavirus measures by following the government’s social distancing guidance and complying with the advice on non-essential travel beyond where people usually live or work. Because of this we have decided to cancel the Hope Valley Explorer for the 2020 summer season.
“Along with our partners Stagecoach, we were really looking forward to extending the Hope Valley Explorer’s period of operation following the fantastic response from the people who used the bus last year. In light of the ongoing crisis, we hope people will understand our decision.”
The Hope Valley Explorer route provided links for people in Chesterfield, Dronfield and the outskirts of Sheffield, as well as those arriving by train in the Hope Valley, to visit the National Park without using their cars.
Last year the flexible hop, hop off service operated every day for six weeks in July and August, covering the school holidays period. This year it was due to be extended to include every weekend from end of May to the end of September, in addition to everyday in the school holidays during July and August.
David said: “Planning for and publicising public transport services can take many weeks, but with the current level of uncertainties and to avoid impacts further into the season, it was important to make the decision now and inform people.
“We had published from some limited advertising before the COVID-19 crisis, but no further publicity has taken place since government measures were implemented.”
The Hope Valley Explorer is being funded for a three-year seasonal pilot scheme by the Peak District National Park Authority and operated by Stagecoach. The scheme aims to assess the viability of running similar services long-term to ease pressure from private cars in the National Park and support linked sustainable transport by the use of rail services.
Looking to the future, David added: “All being well, we are planning to run the full and extended service next year, and the good news is that the 2020 season will be ‘skipped’ in the pilot, so it will still get its full three years – 2019, 2021 and 2022 – as we want the service’s results to truly show its potential, which we wouldn’t get this year.
“We hope that when it returns the scenic tour the Hope Valley Explorer offers, including the Derwent Dams and the villages of Edale and Castleton, will play a key part in re-engaging Peak District visitors and local communities. For all who love this area it is worth waiting for.”
People can keep up to date with news about the Hope Valley Explorer at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/hopevalleyexplorer.
For now, ‘Stay home, stay local’ is the message to everyone from the Peak District National Park. Visitor facilities including public toilets, car parks and information centres remain closed in support of social distancing guidance.
Government advice during the coronavirus outbreak remains the same: Stay home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.
Keep up to date with the latest Peak District National Park information during the coronavirus situation at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-update.