SAVED: Dial-a-ride buses and cars secured by new LCC deal

SAVED: Volunteer driver Claire Gillard and Coun Kim Snape with a community car serving rural Chorley in 2013

SAVED: Volunteer driver Claire Gillard and Coun Kim Snape with a community car serving rural Chorley in 2013

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The future of dial-a-ride buses and community cars has been secured after Lancashire County Council signed a three-year contract with a consortium of local transport providers.

Five companies in the county operate community transport services - ‘on demand’ bus and car schemes - that provide a door-to-door service for people who are unable to use conventional buses or live too far from bus routes.

Not everyone has the opportunity to use conventional bus or transport services and they may not own a car.

Coun John Fillis

Their successful bid, under a consortium called Lancashire Community Transport, now guarantees funding until April 2018. And the services will be provided alongside the existing Travelcare services run by the county council’s in-house operator.

Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Not everyone has the opportunity to use conventional bus or transport services and they may not own a car.

“Community transport provides a lifeline for many people to go to the doctors, shopping or meet up with family and friends. It is targeted particularly at older and disabled people. Dial-a-ride buses provide a service where alternative public transport is non-existent, or where passengers would have difficulty getting on and off conventional buses or even standing at a bus stop.

“Community car schemes help people who may face rural isolation and provide a flexible service for those who can’t access conventional public transport and for whom the dial-a-ride buses aren’t a viable option either.

“I’m very pleased to have a new contract which puts these companies on a secure footing, particularly at a time when Lancashire County Council is facing huge financial pressures due to budget cuts and increasing demand for services.

“It will enable operators to learn from each other and develop joint training and administration systems to save money and create opportunities to apply for funding from alternative sources to develop their services. This new agreement is a huge opportunity for the operators and provides reassurance that these services will be there in the future for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The Lancashire Community Transport consortium is led by Little Green Bus Limited of Clitheroe, and includes Central Lancashire Dial-A-Ride, West Lancashire Dial-A-Ride and Preston Community Transport.