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NEWSLETTER No 56 WINTER - January 2011

Dear Members,

Summer and Autumn have now long been and gone.  We ran several of our very popular day trips during August when some of the clubs and societies we take you to were on their summer breaks.  We would obviously like to run more trips, but are constrained by the continually increasing demand for our service.  We also managed to run a few shopping trips in December until the snow and ice slowed us down the week before Christmas when we tried to operate a “necessary journeys only” service for medical appointments and critical shopping trips. Now we are into the new year, we can look forward to lighter evenings and springtime.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

COUNCIL FUNDING CUT-BACKS IN 2011

Central Beds Council (CBC) have now completed their consultation on their proposal of reducing their subsidy for concessionary fares.  All Central Bedfordshire members received questionnaires from the council and you had the opportunity to express your views.  A fantastic 95% of you said you are prepared to pay a fare as a contribution to maintaining service levels.  The median figure for an appropriate fare suggested by respondents is £1.50.  At a meeting of CBC Executive on December 7th, the recommendation was accepted, so we would expect the charge of £1.50 per journey (£3 return) to be introduced from 1st April 2011. To be clear, this is for Dunstable, Houghton Regis and villages residents only at this stage.

Luton residents are currently in a different position from their neighbours.  Luton BC were unable to advise their current position at the time of this newsletter, and if or how they plan to make transport savings and whether it will affect our service.  We will bring you up to date as soon as we hear, probably via a poster on our buses.

BUS PASSES / SMARTCARDS

Luton BC maintain their high economic diligence in ensuring all members carried by us have a Smartcard which is still valid.  We are also collaborating to ensure that everyone requiring a Companion permit has one entitling them to travel at the same fare as the member. Without a Companion permit, they must pay for their journey. We really do need you also to help yourselves by ensuring you have the correct Smartcard and endorsements, and they are not expired. Please check your Smartcard (Bus Pass). Please call if you are unsure.

ANSWERING MACHINE

We have finally obtained an operating manual and got our answering machine working again for you to leave messages when the office is not manned. Remember the Booking Office is open between 9am to 3pm, though we do answer at some other times.

MORE NOTICE PLEASE?

I am sorry to repeat this, but we still have many members calling our bookings desk for journeys on the same day, or the next day.  Indeed we are a “Dial-a-Ride” service, where you “Dial” us to make a booking, and we arrange a “Ride” for you.  However, we are currently receiving over 1,000 phone calls per month, so we wait until the day before the journey day to plan our routes to try and fit in as many journey requests as possible and drive the fewest miles.

We therefore need at least TWO days notice of your journey.  Please plan ahead as far as you can. Otherwise you may be disappointed and have to find another more costly way to travel.

COFFEE MORNING

Our last Coffee Morning on Saturday 20th November was a resounding success.  The room we used on the ground floor of Red House Court in Houghton Regis was excellent for our purposes.  We were able to accommodate 58 members on our buses and in the room, and the feedback has been absolutely excellent. You kindly raised over £380 on the morning, for which we are very grateful. However, most importantly, so many people had a really good time. All being well, the next Coffee Morning will be at the same venue and we can open the doors and use the garden if it’s warm outside.

THANK YOU

We all so welcome all your seasonal good wishes and displays of appreciation. We are so lucky to have jobs which are so highly valued by our users. Thank you all for your cards and gifts.

Compiled by Dave Barratt – Coordinator

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