Disabled and elderly people in South Derbyshire will still be able to use a life-line travel service despite changes made to the area's Dial-a-Bus services.
Derbyshire County Council has launched a new Dial-a-Bus shopping service in South Derbyshire. The service, now known as Derbyshire Connect, will take people door-to-door and be fully accessible, which means that it is available to wheelchair users or those who use mobility scooters.
The aim of the service is to support independent living and reduce rural isolation by helping those who do not have access to a private car or a regular bus service to get to local shops and shopping centres.
The council previously pledged to continue paying for the county-wide Dial-a-Bus service. It has now awarded contracts to groups to run the buses, rather than handing out grants to pay for the service.
Changes have been made to how the service is funded following a legal challenge at national level, with councils now getting organisations to bid for contracts, rather than groups being given the opportunity to run the service, paid for by a grant, without working for it.
Derbyshire Connect will cover all villages across South Derbyshire, initially providing transport to supermarkets in Swadlincote and into the town centre.
The service will be provided for the county council by Ashbourne Community Transport’s Little Bus Company and will operate from a base in Swadlincote. Ashbourne Community Transport (ACT) is a registered charity with more than 25 years’ experience of providing accessible transport for the residents of Derbyshire Dales.
Ashbourne Community Transport, based in the town, won the contract to provide the buses to cover the Derbyshire Dales, High Peak and South Derbyshire.
South Derbyshire Community Volunteers Service, based in Swadlincote, will provide buses for medical appointments in South Derbyshire and in the south of the Derbyshire Dales.
Gold card holders can travel free on the service. For other passengers, fares of £2 for an adult single journey or £3.80 for a return will apply. Bookings for the service can be made ahead.
Anyone interested can get more information or make a booking by calling 01335 300670 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kylie Robinson ACT's manager, said: "ACT is keen to ensure that all eligible residents are made aware of the service and have access to it. If you or a family member are interested in using the service or you know of anyone in the community who could benefit, please give us a call."