Transport service given lifeline

PUBLISHED: 09:22 19 February 2008 | UPDATED: 22:21 26 October 2009

A VITAL transport service that provides a lifeline for the elderly and disabled has been given its own lifeline. Hertfordshire County Council is considering scrapping Dial-a-Ride services in the evenings and Saturdays. But yesterday the cabinet postponed

A VITAL transport service that provides a lifeline for the elderly and disabled has been given its own lifeline.

Hertfordshire County Council is considering scrapping Dial-a-Ride services in the evenings and Saturdays.

But yesterday the cabinet postponed the cost-cutting move - instead assigning a topic group to look at the proposals.

At the moment the door-to-door service runs from 9am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday.

The proposed change would see it operate from 9am to 5pm on weekdays only.

According to a council spokesman, the service is used most often between 9am and 5.30pm, while evening and Saturday journeys cost twice as much.

He said: "Usage on Saturdays and after 5.30pm on weekdays accounts for approximately 2,600 trips a year or six per cent of the total across the county.

"The cost depends on distance and varies from £1.10 to £5.20. Reducing the hours will save £88,000 or 15 per cent of the total annual budget."

The council currently funds 10 vehicles, one in each borough or district council area, and 10 drivers - but there will be no job cuts.

The plan has come under fire by WGC county councillor Malcolm Cowan, who is Lib Dem transport spokesman.

He described it as a "double whammy" for vulnerable residents, especially as some areas of the county were considering ending their support for regular bus services.

He said: "Just £88,000 is the saving from ending this important lifeline for elderly people.

"So much for the council's so-called promise of accessibility for all and helping older people to say independent.

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