Disabled OAP loses Dial-a-Ride ‘lifeline’

The Oxford Times: Iris Lewis with her cancellation letter from Dial-a-Ride. Picture: OX64409 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo Iris Lewis with her cancellation letter from Dial-a-Ride. Picture: OX64409 Damian Halliwell

A PENSIONER has had to give up a weekly visit to a social club after council bosses said they could no longer offer her transport.

Disabled Iris Lewis, 78, had used the Oxfordshire County Council Dial-a-Ride service for six weeks to get to Iffley’s Gladiator Club.

But the council has now said it cannot pick her up from her Spindleberry Close home in Blackbird Leys, because it would “disrupt schedules” and was “unsustainable”.

Wheelchair user Ms Lewis, who suffered multiple strokes last year, said: “The club is my lifeline. It is the one time I go out, on a Thursday morning.”

She said the council even asked if she could get someone to take her from her home to the bus and from the bus to the club to save time.

The mother-of-five said: “They should be doing that themselves.

“All they have to do is push me straight out. I do not ask them to hang about for nothing.”

The Dial-a-Ride service has come under extra pressure after a number of councils cut their share of funding from £470,000 to £160,000 in 2012.

Oxford City, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils cut all or most funding.

The county council pledged to keep funding its share, but said it could not afford to put in any more. More than 28,000 journeys were made by the service in 2012/13.

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A letter from the council to Ms Lewis said demand is “very high” and her service is “unachievable as it is causing “disruption with the schedules”.

It said: “This is due to the time you wish to travel not being compatible with other journeys being made, which is having an effect on the daily schedules.

“Unfortunately Thursdays are oversubscribed and have no alternative travel times.”

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “Most people who use Dial-a-Ride are picked up from their home address and are taken with other passengers to one specific location, for example a supermarket or a town centre.

“This helps to ensure that bus time schedules are kept to and that Dial-a-Ride service users are not kept waiting for significant periods. Other passengers had to wait for the vehicle to pick them up whilst Mrs Lewis was taken to the Gladiator Club. This made it unsustainable.”

He added: “We are unaware of this lady’s personal financial circumstances, however other options could include a taxi or a specialist service.”

The annual cost of using the Dial-a-Ride service is £5. The cost to Ms Lewis of a return trip from her home to the club in a taxi is about £16, which she said she couldn’t afford.

Comments (2)

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12:22pm Thu 30 Jan 14

angelox99 says...

I think this is wrong beyond belief. An elderly lady who is unable to travel very far under her own steam, being told by the council to make her own way there.

Are we now denying elderly and vulnerable people of this service as it does not fit in with schedules made by the council!!

You cannot start to say that the journey from Blackbird Leys could not be combined to fit in with other collection and drop of others requiring the service. If so, I can only suggest that there is very poor management of this service. It does not take a lot to schedule journeys so that timetables can be met and also to benefit the system buy saving on fuel and wasted journeys operating empty vehicles.

Whenever I have seen the Dial-A-Ride services on the road, there has ever only been 1 or 2 people max.
I think this is wrong beyond belief. An elderly lady who is unable to travel very far under her own steam, being told by the council to make her own way there. Are we now denying elderly and vulnerable people of this service as it does not fit in with schedules made by the council!! You cannot start to say that the journey from Blackbird Leys could not be combined to fit in with other collection and drop of others requiring the service. If so, I can only suggest that there is very poor management of this service. It does not take a lot to schedule journeys so that timetables can be met and also to benefit the system buy saving on fuel and wasted journeys operating empty vehicles. Whenever I have seen the Dial-A-Ride services on the road, there has ever only been 1 or 2 people max. angelox99
  • Score: 3

11:33pm Thu 30 Jan 14

John Lamb says...

Just remember every time a pensioner loses a much needed service like this, a banker light his cigar with a £50 note.
It was their criminal actions that has led to all this, but have they suffered at all?
Have they hell.
Just remember every time a pensioner loses a much needed service like this, a banker light his cigar with a £50 note. It was their criminal actions that has led to all this, but have they suffered at all? Have they hell. John Lamb
  • Score: 0

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