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Dial-a-Ride Not Working


At our second Food For Thought meeting last night, the main topic of conversation was the County Council's Dial-a-Ride service for people with mobility problems. The service was restructured in May, apparently as a result of the Council 'listening to customer feedback', but the message we heard was that the old system was better.


Dial-a-Ride Minibus outside Tumbing Bay CourtAccording to older people who rely on the service for shopping, hobbies and contact with friends and families, it's no longer possible to make a booking unless it's a 'block booking'. People seemed confused about what this actually meant, but the result seems to be empty places on the bus while people who live in the same housing complex are left at the kerbside. A story in last week's Oxford Mail describes how the block booking system means pensioners are fined if they can't make a journey at a prearranged time, meaning they are pressured into going even when they feel tired or unwell! However passengers were quick to praise the drivers, whom they described as kind, curteous and helpful.


Luckily some of the people affected turned out to be strong-minded enough to take a stand, and now Deputy Council Leader Rodney Rose has promised to investigate. Cuts to services have apparently followed four of five Distict Councils pulling out of the scheme because they can't afford it. As usual, though, the Local Authority have tried to mask the cut, pretending that the reorganisation is some sort of improvement drive. Take this quote from the Council's web site:


"These changes represent a significant improvement to the service and we are keen to continue to make improvements wherever we are able, and value your comments and suggestions."


We have agreed to take the matter up with the Council ourselves, and also to write this article to let people know what was happening. If they really value our comments and suggestions they will:

  • Simplify the bookings procedure.
  • Relax the rules that prevent people from using empty spaces.
  • Stop patronising older citizens.


1 #1 jhyslop
on December 05 2012 19:41:13
At December's Food For Thought meeting, the residents of Tumbling Bay Court updated us on their attempts to get the County Council to improve the Dial-A-Ride service. One person had received a long reply from Neil Timberlake, the County's Assistant Public Transport Officer, hinting that improvements to the block booking system were in the pipeline, and suggesting that residents lobby the City Council to reinstate their financial support for the scheme. The view in the room was that improvements were needed now. One suggestion worth exploring further was the idea of 'meeting points' such as Community Centres with regular pick up times and destinations on certain days. Watch this space for more news.

Details of Food For Though here http://www.commun...icle_id=23,
1 #2 jhyslop
on December 05 2012 19:52:36
Councillor Jean Fooks of the City Council's Lib Dem group puts her views on the dial-a-ride debacle here.

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