Will Heathrow finally allow hotels to provide their own shuttles?

Earlier today, YourHeathrow shared the following Tweet:

Whilst it could be a totally innocent Tweet highlighting the fact that you could use public transport for free within a certain radius of the airport, the fact it shows the hotels along Bath Road got me thinking: Could the Hotel Hoppa bus services about to disappear? Individual hotel shuttles are banned at Heathrow and as such, the Hotel Hoppa service has a monopoly.

Now I have no inside knowledge on this whatsoever so this is pure speculation on my part. Having used the Hotel Hoppa service extensively over the last couple of years, a few negative points stick in my mind from the whole process.

The Price: At £5 for a single ticket or £9 for a return, they’re not exactly cheap.

The frequency: The first time I used the service, I wrongly assumed that due to the high price charged, they would at least be frequent. Wrong. They run every thirty minutes. Whilst every couple of minutes would be unreasonable, every fifteen would surely not be too much to ask?

The routes: Whilst dedicated hotel shuttles are just that – a shuttle service between the hotel and the airport, the Hotel Hoppa service isn’t. It takes in three or four hotels on its route. If your pick up is first, factor in 30-40 minutes to get from your hotel to the terminal.

The buses: All of them are early 2008 builds, so they’re not exactly in the best of condition.

The drivers: I could be a little unfair including this here, however a few of the drivers leave a lot to be desired. One incident that sticks in my mind was a bus turning up a good ten minutes late before the driver rushed off saying he needed the toilet. Fair enough, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. However at the next stop there was a difficult passenger (or at least attempted passenger). This particular drivers way of dealing with him was to exit the bus and offer him a fight. Very professional.

Around mid 2018, the franchise shifted from National Express to Rotala. Now again, this is pure speculation on my part but perhaps the new arrangement isn’t living up to expectation for the airport? For sure, it’s not the best welcome to the UK for visitors. I’ve witnessed on more than a few occasions visitors get on and then seem shocked that they have not only had to pay, but pay so much too. Whilst there’s been a couple of occasions in Europe that I’ve had to pay for hotel shuttles, it’s been a couple of Euros at the most. Far from the amount charged at Heathrow.

I guess time will tell as to what happens to the service. Either a much needed new fleet or the airport canning the service altogether.

For the time being though, if you’re staying on Bath Road, take a free public bus. It won’t cost you anything, those buses are more frequent and in most cases they reach the airport in far less time too. Also in most cases, the buses are brand new.

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