A COMMUNITY drive to provide a vital bus for residents has been successful.
The new dial-a-ride service covering the whole of the Stobhill area of Morpeth, which will run every Wednesday morning from February 5, replaces the former M3 bus that was withdrawn in July.
The vehicle that will pick people up and drop them off from their homes is an easy access mini-bus operated by Adapt North East. The money has been provided by the county council’s Get Going Fund and Morpeth Town Council.
In order to comply with community transport legislation, users must be members and book their ride the day before they travel. Membership costs just £3 a year.
Efforts to get the new service in place were led by Stobhill county councillor Ian Lindley and town councillor Alison Byard. It is hoped the community bus will be well used so that a longer term sustainable service can be established.
Coun Lindley said: “The M3 service has been much missed by residents, particularly those who are elderly or with poor mobility.
“It is too far for the elderly to walk from the Avenues to Shields Road to catch the Arriva bus, which also does not have a lower easy access step. Many senior citizens have also told us how they miss the social side of seeing one another on the bus.
“Unfortunately, the dial-a-ride service is unable to accept any concessions, such as the pensioners’ bus pass, but the fare is excellent value when compared with an average £6 return for a taxi.
“The fares will also help to guarantee the long term future of the service.”
It will start at 10am, with return runs around lunchtime. To encourage users to try the service, open to all residents experiencing difficulties in using public transport, the first three journeys will be free.
Fares will be £2 single and £3 return and it is £1 per child over five years old.
Coun Byard said: “This is a combination of a bus and a taxi. It will pick up residents from their homes and drop them off at any destination between Stobhill and the centre of town, whether it’s someone’s house, the shops, library or health centre.
“It will then pick them up again at a pre-arranged time and bring them home to their door. The driver will even give them any help they may need to carry in their shopping.”
To book your first trip, call Adapt North East on 01434 600599. A subscription form can be sent to you by post or you can fill one out on the bus.
Previous rounds of the Get Going Fund are currently supporting a range of community transport initiatives across the county, including people in rural areas without access to public transport.
The next round of funding from it closes on February 28. For more information, contact Jan Chisholm at Northumberland County Council by telephone on 01670 624087 or email jan.chisholm@north umberland.gov.uk