Could a hopper bus service transform traffic in Hampstead?

Members of the NW3 Green School Runs group, Alessandra Giuliani, Yoni Jacobs and Valeria Pensabene.

Members of the NW3 Green School Runs group, Alessandra Giuliani, Yoni Jacobs and Valeria Pensabene. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A newly-formed group is looking to set up a private hopper bus service in Hampstead.

Maria Higson

Maria Higson - Credit: Maria Higson

The plan is to set up a subscription-funded bus serving an hour long route around NW3 and which would take in Hampstead and parts of Belsize Village.

Valeria Pensabene, one of the founders of the Green School Runs charity, which has been working to improve the morning and evening rush hour in Hampstead for more than a year, is one of the driving forces behind the shuttle bus plan.

READ MORE: ‘It means everything’: Care home residents turn 90 and 100 – and are finally able to see their loved onesShe said the idea was to minimise private care use, particularly among people who find it harder to walk into town.

Valeria said: “The idea is essentially to help those, particularly the older demographic, out of their cars. You can’t really expect everyone to struggle walking up the hill, so it’s about giving them an alternative.”

Other members of the group, include members of the Heath and Hampstead Society, and local councillor Maria Higson.

Cllr Higson (Con, Hampstead Town) said the proposed scheme was one of a number of options being considered as “creative solutions” to help reduce traffic.

She said: “For some – including a proportion of our elderly or otherwise mobility-impaired neighbours - a shift to walking and cycling across our beautiful but hilly area isn’t possible. One way to reduce private car use is better public or community transport; at present Hampstead has significantly lower connectivity than the rest of Camden.

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“At this stage we’re simply asking if this is something the community would like, and early results show strong support.”

The plan is in an embryonic stage, and a questionnaire is currently being circulated in order to establish the project’s viability.

Valeria emphasised that there would need to be proven demand before the bus runs.

Meanwhile, the Green School Runs team has called on local and national authorities to let it help provide bus services for children, as backed by education secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Department for Education did not comment, saying it was a local matter.

See the group’s survey designed to scope out demand for a hopper bus at