Community transport operator, hoppa, which covers Farnham, Godalming, Cranleigh, Haslemere and surrounding villages, celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year. The anniversary coincides with the friendly, local bus company providing its 750,000th passenger journey.
Hoppa provides low cost, fully accessible transport to people living in the borough of Waverley, keeping older people and those with disabilities independent and connected to their communities while offering affordable transport to people on low incomes.
“We are thrilled that 15 years since hoppa was set up, it is has become a thriving enterprise that enhances the lives of local people every day. For our customers, having hoppa means they can get to a supermarket to buy fresh, healthy affordable food, go to a community centre to see friends or even to important medical check-ups – things that many of us take for granted,” says Steve Forward, hoppa’s General Manager. “Imagine not being able to visit a loved one in hospital because you couldn’t afford the taxi. Thankfully, our Hospital hoppa services, scheduled and ranger services mean our customers don’t have that sort of worry.”
Hoppa was set up in 2002 by Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council when they recognised that the four localities of Haslemere, Godalming, Cranleigh and Farnham required an alternative to conventional public transport. A rural area with distinct communities in and around its main towns and villages, living in Waverley without access to a car meant vulnerable residents risked being isolated, losing their independence and not being able to fulfil basic needs. The solution was hoppa: a community-based transport service providing low cost, door to door and scheduled bus services with accessible vehicles.
Since then, hoppa has taken thousands of customers on hundreds of thousands of journeys. The data it collects about its services revealed that in June 2017, hoppa made its 750,000th passenger journey.
While Steve Forward and his team of dedicated staff and drivers are celebrating hoppa’s success, challenges could lie ahead: “There is no doubt – and research backs this up – that community transport services like ours keep people active and healthy, and support community life and the local economy. Hoppa provides great value to taxpayers and our customers but the cost of running the reliable, high quality and flexible service that our passengers need and with specialist vehicles is significant; it is our challenge to continue to do this despite the current economic climate.”
Since it started in 2002, hoppa has become completely independent of Surrey and Waverley. Hoppa is a registered charity and a not-for-profit company with an annual turnover of nearly £1million, with less than 20 per cent of that turnover derived from grant support. It has a dedicated team of staff and is supported by a board of volunteer trustees. Hoppa is active in the community, with close links to local councils, businesses, schools and community organisations.