‘Lifeline’ Community Transport Service to stay

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A Plus Bus service that ‘makes the world of difference’ to Milton Keynes’ elderly community is to continue its service - but it’s not exactly known in what shape or form.

After an overwhelming response from the community who voted in favour of Milton Keynes Community Transport there are new proposals to continue the service following the contract’s expiration in August 2013.

Since then the council has made temporary arrangements to extend the contract until the consultation concluded, which saw 344 people respond - some even describing it as a ‘lifeline’.

On April 16, Cabinet will receive a report proposing new arrangements including those which would continue the Community Transport service.

“The service you are providing to people like me is something to be proud of and it makes the world of difference to me. It is something I would consider paying more for, if it would help.”

Another added: “I am distraught at the very suggestion of its demise and urge you in the strongest possible terms not to withdraw this unique and precious service.”

If approved, the council will secure vehicles to be operated by the Milton Keynes Service Partnership (MKSP), a limited liability partnership wholly owned by Milton Keynes Council.

The proposed new arrangement is expected to be implemented by September 1, 2014.

Councillor Debbie Brock, cabinet member responsible for Adult Social Care, Health & Wellbeing, said: “I am delighted that we have found a solution to continue this much valued service for Community Transport clients.

“The service is there for our more vulnerable and frail residents who are unable to use other forms of public transport, and as such it’s seen by many users as a lifeline.”

Other comments that came out of the consultation included buses run with few people on board, there is difficulty with the booking system and scheduling, value is placed on shopping trips, the drivers are held in very high regard, many clients are prepared to pay more to ensure the service continues, there is a need for fully accessible vehicles - including the ability to cater for large electric chairs and there is a need to ensure fully trained drivers.

MKSP already supplies transport for some council services, and this coverage would extend to the Adult Social Care Services and current Community Transport clients.

Individuals with specialist needs will of course continue to be supported to access transport.