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NEWSLETTER No 58 SUMMER - August 2011

Dear Members,

We now enter yet another interesting phase in the history of South Beds Dial-a-Ride. For all of our existence we have performed almost solely “dial-a-ride” duties and little else. However it is now a commonly held view across this country that “dial-a-ride does not pay”, and this is sadly true, the future is predicted to be bleak. So like many others, we are having to look at different ways to raise money to support our dial-a-ride activities. Don’t worry though, we do have a plan, so more of this below.

I mentioned in the last newsletter we had a record year in 2010 with 34,000 journeys, 10% up on 2009. Interestingly the increase in journeys was entirely in Luton. We carried over 26% more Luton members than the previous year while Central Beds journeys remained steady. A fantastic achievement by staff who arranged and performed these journeys for you.

NEW BUS SERVICE

The first stage in our diversification plan is now under way. On July 25th we started our first scheduled public bus service supported by Central Bedfordshire Council. Route 71 partly replaces services 34 and 73 where council subsidies were reduced in rural and “isolated areas”. It operates from the Salters Way area 3 days per week              to and from Dunstable 4 times per day, then travels via Totternhoe, Eaton Bray, and Billington to Leighton Buzzard 3 times per day. This links all these places to Sainsbury’s and ASDA in Dunstable, also passing Morrisons, Tesco and the High Street in Leighton Buzzard

NEW DRIVER

The additional funding for Route 71 allowed us to replace one of the 2 drivers we lost in the last 10 months. We were delighted to welcome Paul Hiorns on 1st August who really enjoyed working with us as an agency driver for many months and did a sterling job.

DAY TRIPS

Another benefit from Route 71 is an increase in flexibility in our working week. We receive many requests to arrange day trips out of our area. Previously we could only do these in the summer holidays when clubs and day centres closed down for a couple of weeks. Now we can predict opportunities on a weekly basis. You will already have seen August and September’s trip schedules advertised on our buses. If you continue to give us the fantastic support for the trips as you have in the past 2 months, we will continue offering as many as we can. Your ideas are welcome.

SUPPORTING DIAL-a-RIDE ACTIVITIES

As we diversify, new services will be offered for several reasons:-

  1. To raise money to continue to run dial-a-ride services. This is the very reason we are here and our prime purpose.
  2. To provide additional services to our members, eg. day trips which are very popular for getting away from the concrete and brick of our urban towns, as well as raising funds for us.
  3. To provide services to our local communities which are being reduced or withdrawn, as well as raising funds for us.

You may have noticed we now carry a sponsor’s name and contact details appears on all our buses. This will raise awareness of their services in our operating area of Luton, Dunstable, Houghton Regis and surrounding villages, as well as raising funds for us.

We are also looking at a number of other ways of using our resources to raise additional funds.

COFFEE MORNING

Our last Coffee Morning in May was a great success again with almost 60 attendees. We have booked the same room again in Red House Court in Houghton Regis for a Saturday towards the end of November. We will advertise details nearer the time.

25th ANNIVERSARY

It was late in 1986 that Bob Mumford MBE was involved in running a haulage company near Markyate when he went blind. After trying and failing to find an organisation to transport him about, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Bob obtained funding from local councils, bought a second hand bus and hired a driver. The rest, as they say, is history. Our next Coffee Morning will almost exactly coincide with the 25th anniversary of our first trip, so we will hold some special celebrations during that event. We hope to see you there.

Compiled by Dave Barratt – Coordinator

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