Continuing investment in community transport
16 November 2012
Hampshire County Council has agreed renewed investment in community transport schemes, such as Dial-a-ride and Call and Go.
Against a background of reduced Government subsidies for bus journeys, Hampshire County Council is set to award new contracts worth in the region of £800,000 and subject to confirmation of joint funding by district council partners. This investment will enable community transport services to be provided for people who either cannot use, or who find difficulty in using, a conventional bus service.
Current contracts with community transport providers are due to expire on 31 January 2013 and operators have been invited to tender to run services from February 2013. The good news is that, subject to the final detail of the bids being agreed, community transport services across the county will operate mainly as they do now, despite increases in their operating costs.
Where changes have been proposed by operators, these changes are aimed at improving the level of service for passengers. For example:
East Hampshire Call and Go is proposing to offer an additional monthly service to various destinations and to take people to the household waste recycling centre in Bordon.
Fareham Dial-a Ride is proposing to increase the number of days a second vehicle operates from three days to five days a week.
Gosport Dial-a-Ride is proposing to offer an additional full day service
Winchester Dial-a-Ride is proposing to operate their single wheelchair vehicle on additional days using volunteer drivers.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said:
"We are still facing enormous pressures on our budget and it is important we ensure we manage our resources carefully to maintain essential services. We want to keep Hampshire moving, as well as supporting our communities to promote well-being and economic prosperity. Investment in community transport is important and in considering the tender bids, we are satisfied that communities will continue to receive a good level of service which meets people's needs, particularly those living in more remote, rural areas where traditional bus services have been lost.
"In these difficult times, we understand that local councils have to look at making savings and some of our partners are still working through their budget processes but I am pleased to learn that the indications are that they will continue to support community transport."
The future of the Havant Call and Go service will be confirmed at a later date following a decision by Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council about the level of funding each authority can provide for this service.