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Romford widow calls on TfL to do more to protect ‘vital’ Dial-a-Ride transport buses

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:34 06 July 2018

Dial-A-Ride minibus, Photo: Tfl

Dial-A-Ride minibus, Photo: Tfl

Archant

Romford residents are calling for more to be done to improve the uptake of a travel service for Havering’s elderly and vulnerable residents.

Dial-a-Ride provides vital transportation to certain disadvantaged groups by allowing them to book trips on buses run by Transport for London (TfL).

Lisa Bussee, 44, used to use the Dial-a-Ride service twice a week with her late husband Robert, and says that while the service works well, the number of times she and her husband were alone on their journeys into Romford increased towards the end of her time using the service.

She said: “It works well - I’d give it nine out of 10 – but when we found ourself on our own on the buses we began to lose the social aspect of it a little bit.

“And then we’d get home and find out one or two of our friends nearby had also gotten on buses on their own, so there had been three buses out when one would have worked just as well.

“If I could change one thing about it it’s that I would have more people using the service, getting more people onto each of the buses so that there is that social aspect but also so that the buses themselves do more journeys.”

The future of Dial-a-Ride has been an issue for some time.

TfL’s own statistics show that usage is on the decline at an alarming rate – in 2004/05 its buses completed 17,728 same day booking trips, but by 2017/18 this had fallen to 4,574.

And in April, 120 workers at the service’s Orpington and Woodford Green depots went out on strike in an ongoing row over new timetabling.

Michael Lloyd, Havering’s Dial-a-Ride and Taxi Card representative, also urged TfL to urgently look at the service’s future, and thinks more thought needs to be applied to the scheduling of buses to ensure they are as full as possible.

He told the Recorder: “I and my fellow members and drivers are desperately concerned that this vital lifeline service will not survive in the very near future unless the management implement the necessary proven changes to protect this vital service for the future.”

Tfl insists it is investing “unprecedented amounts” in improving Dial-a-Ride’s accessibility, and hopes to make it the best in the world.

James Mead, Dial-a-Ride General Manager, said: “The increasing accessibility of transport, along with the growth of online shopping, means that the demand for Dial-a-Ride has reduced, but it remains a vital service.

“By ensuring more people have a chance to make the most of London’s opportunities it helps to make a more inclusive city.

“We’re committed to improving the service further and to have world-leading assisted transport by 2021.”

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