Tuesday, 29 March 2011

West Lindsey Step In To Keep Vital Bus Service Operating

Elderly and vulnerable passengers who rely on a door to door bus service to get around the district have been given a helping hand.  The Dial-a-Ride bus service which is equally subsidised by West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council will stop running next month.

The county council is stopping the county-wide scheme to cope with the recent Government funding cuts.

However, to ensure passengers are not left stranded in the district - they have struck up a deal with West Lindsey District Council to enhance the existing Call Connect Service.

They have agreed to transfer their share of the Dial-a-Ride Funding to the existing Call Connect service.

Community Officer at West Lindsey District Council, Mrs. Karen Yates said:
"We are delighted that we have managed to come up with a suitable agreement.

"Without alternative provision, the effects on many West Lindsey passengers, who are not able to access public transport, would have been greater than other districts."
West Lindsey is just one of two district councils in Lincolnshire to secure a deal with the county council.  Mrs. Yates added:
"We have allocated 50 per cent of the funding totaling £37,980 to extend the scheme.

"The vast majority of Dial-a-Ride passengers will be able to use the service with extra benefits."
There are three Call Connect buses in the district and a further bus has been added to cope with the additional Dial-a-Ride passengers making a total of four.

More than 100 passengers have transferred from the Dial-a-Ride scheme to Call Connect Plus.

Not only will they still have a service, they will not have to pay an annual membership fee and they will be able to use their bus pass if they qualify for them.

A small handful of passengers have not been transferred over yet because they need extra assistance.

Co-coordinator for social activities at Gainsborough House, Ms Jane Rasburn, is appealing for volunteers to help out. She said:
"Some of our residents will be affected by the change of the bus service.

"Although they can still use the service, many need a little extra help getting on and off the buses to their front door.

"The drivers do their best but this is not within the remit of their job to offer as much assistance as is needed for some passengers.

"For many, this social club is their only social event of the week, which is why we are appealing for volunteers who would be willing to help passengers."
The Call Connect scheme is available to everyone and is not age or ability restricted.

There are designated pick up points but door to door arrangements can be made for those who are disabled or live in isolated areas.

Passengers must become a member to use the service, but membership is free.

The service is free if you qualify for a bus pass otherwise it costs between £3 and £4 return.

To make a booking call 0845 234344.  If you would like to volunteer please call the Volunteer Centre on (01427) 613470.

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