Main image: Driver Angela Perrett on the Sprint before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Knowle West residents have welcomed the return of the local Sprint bus – which has given them back their independence again.
The Sprint – based at Inns Court Community and Family Centre – had to close down its service with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In July it started running again – to the delight of regular users – as unlike most bus services it picks them up from their homes and drops them back again.
The fleet of three buses and a people carrier operates around the south Bristol area and has been a lifeline to the local community for almost 20 years.
The service currently has over 400 members from the Knowle catchment area and takes them on regular shopping trips and prior to the pandemic also took people further afield.
Now the buses are back on the road again – after the team has made sure they are “Covid secure” and put in new safety measures.
Driver Angela Perrett says: “We are like one big family, our service users are so glad to have their independence back as quite a number have difficulty walking and so cannot access bus stops.
“People have told us they are glad we are back on the road again as they still are not confident enough to venture too far.
“We have put safety measures in place, gloves, masks, sanitiser, taped off seats to comply with social distancing, our shopping “bubbles” contain only five or six people who sit in the same seats there and back and we use the same bus there and back to avoid cross contamination. We then clean the buses down…”
Sprint member Christine Taylor (51) says she is “truly grateful” the service is up and running again – as it means she is able to get out and about.
She says: “Thanks to the team for being back serving the community again. I have not been to a supermarket since lockdown began. My first trip was a little daunting but it was run perfectly professionally, both drivers and buses well adapted for the pandemic. A huge thankyou to you all…”
Eighty-four-year-old Margaret Milkins agrees: “Loving that the Sprint is back, giving me my independence – and I feel safe.”
Inns Court Community and Family Centre in Marshall Walk is currently still closed to the public but due for a deep clean in August and could possibly re-open in September.
For more information about the Sprint or to book call 0117 904 8215 (mornings up to 1pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org