Lifeline service proving a hit

Drivers(left to right) George Bell, Joanne Pell and James Gavillet.

Drivers(left to right) George Bell, Joanne Pell and James Gavillet.

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A LIFELINE bus service for elderly and disabled residents is proving to be a hit just a month after it was rescued by a community group.

Residents across Hartlepool faced being left without transport when the decision was made by Hartlepool Borough Council to end the Dial-a-Ride service and save £200,000 as part of cut backs.

But the Manor West Centre joined forces with East Durham Communicare to offer a replacement door-to-door service.

It started on April 1, to coincide with the council’s scheme finishing at the end of March, and centre bosses say they are pleased with how it is going.

The Manor West Centre is using part of its fleet of six buses under the banner of Manor West Community Transport, while the partner company is also providing vehicles.

The service includes specially qualified drivers and wheelchair access.

Julie Marshall, centre manager at the Brierton Lane-based site, said: “It is going really well so far and we have had a number of people ringing up to say how impressed they are with the drivers, which is great to hear.

“The people that use the service are really pleased that it has been saved, as half of them would not be able to get out of their houses otherwise.

“We already have 80 individual members signed up and most of our bookings are block bookings for people that make regular trips.

“Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are our busiest days.”

The new scheme costs £4 per journey and people need to be registered with the service in order to use it with each user given cards to use the buses.

Anyone wanting to get on board will need to fill in an application form and there is an annual £5 membership fee.

The buses run from 10am-6pm from Monday to Saturday, and people can make bookings by ringing the Manor West Centre between 9am and noon.

To book a Saturday or Monday journey, the centre will need to be notified on the Friday.

For more information or to register as a member, ring Julie Marshall at the Manor West Centre on (01429) 273123.