May 24 2013 Latest news:
Exclusive by Jane Ball, News Editor
Thursday, July 19, 2012
»A free bus service for Havering’s elderly and disabled people is wasting cash, time and energy as it is based miles outside the borough, it is claimed.
Now its users’ spokesman is urging bosses to honour a promise to bring the service closer to home.
Dial-a-Ride (DaR) provides free door-to-door transit for those unable to use public transport.
It operates from a base in Woodford, Redbridge – more than six miles from the borough’s borders.
This means that nearly 50,000 miles a year are notched up in dead travel time to and from the depot – costing more than £13,000.
Users’ spokesman Michael Lloyd says the Transport for London service is breaking its own environmental promise to promote sustainable travel.
“Each trip made by a minibus consists of 12.6 miles during which often it is not carrying any passengers - that’s 4,500 miles a year,” said the Hornchurch resident.
“This is the equivalent of one minibus without a passenger completing nine return trips from Woodford to Blackpool Tower.
“It’s a disgraceful waste of fuel in addition to unnecessary CO2 emissions.”
DaR could instead be completing more than 7,410 extra trips for Havering’s vulnerable people, says Mr Lloyd.
In December 2009, the service’s boss Paul Blackwell declared that he was scouting locations for a depot in Havering.
DaR, which has an annual budget of more than £33m, has come under fire since implementing a computer booking system to replace manual reservations in 2008.
Trip refusals have rocketed by 80 per cent London-wide since 2004/05 – with completed trips increasing by just over nine per cent in the same period, the service’s figures show.
Mr Blackwell said: “We constantly review our depot strategy.
“We have a long lease and appropriate facilities [in Woodford] to support the service in east London.
“It is therefore not considered appropriate or necessary to operate an additional depot in Havering at this stage.”