A SCHEME that will introduce a ‘new era’ in community transport has been launched in Tenbury.

Tenbury Transport Trust (TTT), a registered charity, is expected to provide a vital lifeline for those without transport in isolated rural areas.

It has replaced Tenbury Transport Group (TTG), that was set up by Tenbury Area Partnership (TAP) five years ago, to provide a bookable minibus service.

In the face of Worcestershire County Council cuts the new group aims to help all those who do not have access to transport for purposes such as medical visits and essential shopping, and to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by their lack of mobility.

The charity is based within the Tenbury Tourist Information office with a dedicated transport co-ordinator to administer the work of TTT.

A personal car service will be developed as well as the continuation of hiring out the ‘Teme Hopper’ minibus provided by a pool of volunteer drivers.

The regular Tuesday shopping services operated by the ‘Teme Hopper’ will collect people from places such as Menith Wood and Clifton-on-Teme with volunteers’ cars serving the Stoke Bliss area.

There are plans to build up the car service and the possibility of extending the bus service to other villages in the Teme Valley such as the Leysters, Little Hereford and Clee Hill areas is under consideration.

Passengers on the bus pay £1 for a one way journey irrespective of length if they have a travel concession and £3 if they do not.

In addition to the scheduled services on Tuesdays the bus can also be hired.

“Our charity represents a new era in community transport for Tenbury,” said John Driver, chairman of the new group.

The other hopes for the future include adding a second bus to the existing vehicle that has 15 seats and specialist equipment to enable access for people with disabilities.

“We shall be talking with partners like Worcestershire County Council about how we can either buy or purchase a second bus,” said Mr Driver.

It is also hoped to extend the car scheme that is operated by volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles and get reimbursed at 45p per mile.

People who ‘book’ a car pay 40p per mile for their travel so the service is very much operated as a community initiative and does not make money.

It is available for anyone to use provided that they can demonstrate that they do not have an alternative means of transport.

More volunteer drivers are needed for the bus and while there is no need for a public service vehicle licence there will be an informal ‘test’ with one of the existing drivers and an assessment from Worcestershire County Council.

Drivers involved in the car scheme will also take an informal ‘test’ and need to show that they are covered by insurance which John Driver says does not involve an increased premium with many companies.

For more information contact the TTT transport co-ordinator Carole Collier on 01584 810136 or call in to the office.