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The three new buses will operate a ten-minute frequency free circular service. JONATHAN WELCH

Jonathan Welch attended the launch of Leicester’s new ‘Hop!’ city centre circular

On Tuesday 14 March, the next stage in Leicester’s expanding ‘Greenlines’ bus network was launched, with the presentation to the public of three new Yutong E9 midibuses branded ‘Hop!’ for a new city centre circular service, which will provide a free shuttle linking the city’s bus and railway stations with areas of the city centre, hospital and visitor attractions.

The service itself will start operating on Monday 3 April, with the three new battery-electric buses operating on a ten-minute frequency between 0800 and 1800hrs Mondays to Saturdays and serving 12 stops on the anticlockwise circuit.


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As well as the now-expected USB sockets and WiFi on board, passengers will have access to real-time information at stops, including a text-to-speech facility.

Maintaining a family resemblance to the existing Greenlines buses, the new ‘Hop!’ service has been branded with a friendly frog motif, and the buses will also have a unique sound, as all three buses have been fitted with a distinctive ‘ribbet’ sound effect as well as a more conventional gong to warn pedestrians of their approach.

Leicester City Council is launching the new service on an 18-month trial basis as one of its Leicester Buses Partnership commitments. Deputy City Mayor Councillor Adam Clarke said: “The new Hop! service will provide people with an easily accessible, free, green, transport option that connects key sites around the city centre, with bus stops conveniently close to Leicester’s pedestrian zone. We’re proud of our city centre and want those who might struggle to access it, including older residents and people with mobility problems, to be able to enjoy all it has to offer, sustainably.

“The new Hop! buses will also be useful for visitors, with their circular route providing a good introduction to Leicester and its attractions for those who are new to the city.

“These new zero-emission buses will be the latest addition to Leicester’s growing fleet of clean, green electric buses and are part of our commitment to addressing the climate emergency, with the city’s whole bus network due to be fully electric or zero-emission by 2030.”

At a cost of around £1m, the three new midibuses were purchased thanks to a successful bid for funding from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. They will be operated by Centrebus, with the city council funding the scheme and its promotion with a budget of around £325,000. Centrebus Commercial and Operations Director David Brookes said: “Hop! will be the latest addition to the ever-increasing network of electric bus routes in Leicester. It will not only provide a new and sustainable way to get around the city centre, but will also contribute to better air quality and reduce carbon emissions. Centrebus is proud to be working with the city council on this project. We hope the service will prove popular with passengers and we’re excited to launch these new electric vehicles in the city centre.”

Also at the launch was Louise Collins, Senior Stakeholder Manager for independent watchdog Transport Focus. She said: “Transport Focus welcomes the launch of Hop! services by Leicester Buses Partnership, providing free bus services around Leicester city centre. This is a great initiative that gives passengers what they want – a frequent and reliable service that links key transport hubs with popular destinations. This will go a long way to help people see that buses are an attractive way to make journeys that are good for air quality and the environment.”

Subject to funding availability, Leicester plans to expand its Greenlines network over the next eight years as part of its drive to improve the city’s air quality, cut emissions, and make high-quality sustainable public transport more accessible. It forms part of the range of projects being delivered by the Leicester Buses Partnership, launched in April 2022, which brings together all of the city’s operators and the City Council with the aim of improving public transport, reducing congestion and providing better connections across the city. Electric buses are already operating on the recently-launched Hospital Hopper route, as well as the Orbital service, and park & ride services to Birstall, Meynell’s Gorse and Enderby.

The bright green buses carry simple but fun branding. JONATHAN WELCH
Louise Collins, Senior Stakeholder Manager at Transport Focus. JONATHAN WELCH