A NEW bus service is being provided by the expanding Tenbury Transport Trust.
The service will operate every Thursday for an initial trial period of three months.
If it is successful the trust, that achieved charitable status earlier in the year, will be looking for a second bus later in the year.
The trust that emerged from the former Tenbury Transport Partnership now operates four routes – three of them with their Mercedes 15 seat bus and the other using car and volunteer drivers. All of the bus drivers are also volunteers and the trust is keen to recruit more people who can take to the wheel.
Because the bus is restricted to 15 seats there is no need for a driver to hold a public service licence but they do undergoing an assessment by Worcestershire County Council.
It is not allowed to pick up passengers like a traditional bus service and has to be pre-booked but can offer extra flexibility.
“The services operate on a different basis to regular buses and need to be booked but can offer extra flexibility such as taking people at short notice,” said John Driver, chairman of the Tenbury Transport Trust.
“At short notice we have taken on the bus route 760 from R&B. They gave about two months notice to Worcestershire County Council that they were withdrawing the service on June 19.
“It runs from Tenbury through various villages such as Eastham, Menith Wood, Abberley, Great Witley and then via Stourport to Kidderminster on a Thursday.
“Many of the users are elderly, do a main shop and need to be collected and delivered almost to their doors.
“We ran the route with great success on Thursday June 19 and will continue with a three month trial. We have to charge £3 each way in order to break even and most passengers are prepared to pay this although they had free use via their bus passes previously.
“The service is now called the Orange route and is offered as an alternative to the 760. Worcestershire County Council encouraged us to take this on and has been very supportive but has no hand in operating the service.
“Helping people in need in isolated communities is very much an objective of our charity.”
The trust believes that community buses will become increasingly important in the future especially in rural areas where there can be major problems of isolation.
But these are places where it can be very difficult if not impossible for bus services to be operated on a commercial basis. At the same time cuts in public funding mean that local authorities are less able to provide public subsidies.
If the three month trial goes well, and the first service on the new route was almost full, then the Tenbury Transport Trust says that they will be looking at securing a second bus perhaps on a lease.
“Just as important as the bus is having enough drivers and we have about eight at the moment and really need 12,” added Mr Driver.
To book on a service or volunteer as a driver call 01584 810136.