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NEWSLETTER No 53 WINTER - December 2009

Dear Members,

The season that passes for Summer in our lovely country is gone again, and we now look forward to grey and damp days for the next few months.  This is the time of year when we must all exercise a little more care as we move about in the cold and the dark.  Putting that miserable prospect aside, what is new at South Beds Dial-a-Ride?


Philip is now fully back to normal after his illness earlier this year, and apart from the usual colds and viruses and aches and pains, we are all OK.  We will be very sad to lose Tony in the near future, as he has decided to relocate to the seaside.  Tony has been with us for almost 10 years and is very popular with our members.  We are looking for a replacement, but filling Tony’s shoes is not easy.


The trips we ran during the summer were quite popular, and we were sorry we had to suspend them during a really busy period.  Knowing how many members like to go Christmas Shopping, we are arranging several trips to Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead.  See the posters on our buses, and book immediately.


Please be ready for pick up 10 minutes before your booked time.  We cannot predict traffic or other hold ups, so aim to arrive to pick you up within a 20 minute window, up to 10 minutes before and up to 10 minutes after your booked time.  If we come to collect you, but you are not ready, we will try and contact you and will wait up to 10 minutes after your booked time, but we may then have to leave.  We have other passengers to consider, and possibly other members who have appointments to keep, and we do not want to delay them.


Some of you enjoy the privilege of being picked up for journeys without having to call the bookings desk every week.  We must remind you that you MUST call in and cancel if you will not be travelling.  If you do not cancel our drivers will turn up anyway, and waste valuable fuel and time.  Your courtesy may also allow another passenger’s wish to travel.


We held a Coffee Morning on Saturday December 5th.  This is always a popular event, and was very well attended.  A special welcome was extended to our oldest member, Hilda Mason, who passed her 100th Birthday in November.  Fantastic!  Several generous donations were received from grateful members, which is always welcome.  The event also gave an opportunity for members to show their appreciation to our wonderful drivers.


At great expense we have recently replaced our wheelchair and passenger restraints.  Some of our old equipment was getting rather old and unsafe, especially with some of the heavier wheelchairs now being used.  We have also added additional straps for securing shopping trolleys and walking frames, and extension straps where existing seat belts do not extend sufficiently.  ALL loose items MUST be tethered in transit.  Simply holding onto them next to you will not prevent them becoming a missile in the unfortunate event of an impact.


Since the introduction of the National Concessionary Bus Fare Scheme, travelling with South Beds Dial-a-Ride has become totally free to its users.  It is actually very unusual for Dial-a-Rides across the country, not to make any charge, so our members have been very lucky to enjoy this free benefit. 

However, as we are essentially a specialised club with specialised criteria for membership, and we never have enough funds, we are considering introducing an annual membership fee.  We believe our quality door to door service, operated by trained and CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked drivers to help protect vulnerable citizens is worthy of some charge to its users.  We anticipate the annual membership charge will probably be the equivalent of a couple of return taxi fares, and this then provides you with FREE TRAVEL for a WHOLE YEAR!!  More details on this in the New Year.


Many of you will now have travelled in our new bus.  We have had a few new options available, but as always, if you do not like something, or something is missing which you would like to see fitted, please let us know so we can continue to improve our vehicles for your benefit.


Finally, all of us at South Beds Dial-a-Ride would like to wish up all a Merry Christmas, and a Healthy and Happy New Year for 2010.

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