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Lifeline community bus services saved with £435,000 cash injection

Main image: Metro Mayor Dan Norris unveiling The Big Lemon group, Lawrence Weston Community Transport, CATT Community Bus and The Sprint based at Inns Court as the four companies taking over the running of the former Bristol Community Transport services starting this week, with some service users. Picture WECA.

Community minibuses used by many older and disabled people are returning to the streets of Bristol today (Wednesday October 19) following a £435,000 cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority.

Elderly and residents and those with disabilities were left without a vital lifeline after Bristol Community Transport (BCT) announced in August it would be forced to axe its Dial-a-Ride and community group transport services.

Around 600 people used the community services provided by BCT, which included shopping trips for older people, before its demise.

But now four companies – The Big Lemon group, The Sprint in Knowle West, CATT Community Bus in Hartcliffe and Lawrence Weston Community Transport – will together take over the running of these services starting this week.

The Big Lemon will pick up the bulk of the community transport services including Dial-a-Ride, while the three other operators will run the remainder of the services.

The Big Lemon, which runs several routes in Brighton, took over the the 505 (Long Ashton Park Park and Ride to Southmead), 506 (Broadmead to Southmead), 515 (Imperial Park to Stockwood) and 516 (Broad Walk to Hengrove Park) earlier this month.

CEO Tom Druitt said the company was “passionate about providing an excellent passenger experience on the buses” and excited by the opportunity to launch in Bristol.  

The Sprint, based at Inns Court Community and Family Centre, and has been operating in the South Bristol area for over 20 years helping older and disabled residents across Knowle and its surrounding boundaries to help maintain their independence.

Transport Manager Angela Perrett said: “Having accepted the challenge to increase our capacity, we are asking all local residents who formerly used BCT to join up and enjoy what The Sprint can offer. We are also interested in growing links with likeminded groups, we can offer transport for outings or to groups.

“We are also pleased to offer MIDAS training for groups who need a minibus driver.”

The popular Sprint bus service based in Knowle West with Transport Manager Angela Perrett at the wheel.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “… I’m pleased a £435,000 cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority means we can save these services which I know are a lifeline for so many Bristolians, particularly our elderly and disabled residents.

“I know from my very full post bag and from representations from local MPs led by Karin Smyth how important Dial a Ride and all the other important services formerly run by Bristol Community Transport are to many local people to get to the shops and doctors. I’m pleased these services will be starting up once again.”

People can start booking journeys with the four operators by calling 01273 681 681 or for The Sprint can call directly on 0117 904 8215.

To find out more about the community transport schemes operating in the West of England visit www.travelwest.info/community-transport