FORMER York transport boss Andy D'Agorne has pleaded with the city council to try to find a way of saving York's vital 'Dial and Ride' service.

In a shock announcement earlier this month charity York Wheels said that its popular door-to-door bus service for elderly or disabled passengers who have no other means of getting about would come to an end on December 31.

The charity's chair of trustees Rob Atkinson said it was a decision that had been taken with 'deep regret'.

But he added: "The Dial and Ride service has become unsustainable in recent months. Put simply, we have reached the point at which as a result of problems with maintenance and third-party suppliers, our fleet is not up to the standards required to maintain the quality or reliability of the service."

Dial and Ride has been described as 'the bus service which takes over where public transport stops, providing travel options for York residents who are elderly or disabled and have no other means of travelling' and a 'door-to-door service taking you from home to major supermarkets, shopping centres and York city centre'.

It is used by about 30 people every day - and Dial and Ride buses are among the very few vehicles that are allowed into the city centre under present access restrictions.

York Wheels stresses that its volunteer car driver scheme - where customers can book a car in advance to collect them and take them to their destination - will continue.

"We encourage all our customers to make use of that alternative help," Mr Atkinson said.

But Andy D'Agorne, York's former Green transport boss, says the volunteer driver service is not the same.

"While it is good that the volunteer drivers scheme continues, they won’t have vehicles with lift or able to carry powered wheelchairs and I doubt there is capacity to transport anywhere near the numbers using the Dial and Ride minibuses to shopping centres or St Sampson Centre," he said.

Loss of the Dial and Ride service would be a 'big blow to the independence of many, and add to isolation’, he said.

Now Mr D’Agorne has pleaded with the city council to look into ways in which it could help York Wheels maintain the service - or even bring it in-house.

"I do hope the council can review BSIP (bus service improvement) funding to find a way to maintain the service, run by York wheels or other providers," he said.


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"Or is there any chance of bringing in another provider to maintain their use for York elderly and disabled community?"

York disability rights activist Flick Williams called the end of the Dial and Ride service "devastating".

She said: "The people with the least choices about how they travel are the people who it looks like are going to be making fewer to no journeys as we go forward.

York Press: Flick WilliamsFlick Williams (Image: Staff)

"We seem to be going backwards. For older disabled people who require a door to door service - they are now literally without options."

She added: "I hope it can be resolved in whatever way it takes for the service to continue. It's an absolutely essential service."

Cllr Pete Kilbane, deputy leader and executive member for economy and transport for City of York Council, said council officers met with the board of trustees at York Wheels this week.

He said: “We understand the impact that the closure of the Dial and Ride service will have for York Wheels customers, but we will continue to work with York Wheels to find ways to mitigate this impact in the months ahead.

“We’d like to echo York Wheels in encouraging customers to make use of alternative services such as the volunteer car driver scheme, where customers can book a car in advance to take them to their destination.”

To book a car under the York volunteer driver scheme, call York Wheels on 01904 63008.