Dwindling driver roster at Honiton transport charity could cause services to ‘grind to a halt’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:15 14 September 2018

Manager Neil Hurlock at the wheel of one of TRIP's minibuses. Ref mhh 24-16SH 7680. Picture: Simon Horn.

Manager Neil Hurlock at the wheel of one of TRIP's minibuses. Ref mhh 24-16SH 7680. Picture: Simon Horn.

Archant

A Honiton organisation which takes thousands of people to important appointments every year could soon be left with only two voluntary bus drivers on its books.

A Honiton organisation which takes thousands of people to important appointments every year could soon be left with only two voluntary bus drivers on its books.

Charity TRIP currently has six drivers on its roster, who give their time freely to drive people of all ages to different locations in and around Honiton.

However, TRIP manager Neil Hurlock said two drivers have been taken sick on a long-term basis, while another two are considering retiring. This would leave the charity which only two drivers in its arsenal, responsible for transporting around up to 500 people per month.

Mr Hurlock said: “Not having these voluntary drivers would severely impact what we can do as far as taking people to medical appointments and trips out.

“Missing these medical appointments could cost the NHS money - and the lack of trips could also affect the quality of life of our rurally-isolated users, who without our services, would not get to go out.”

Mr Hurlock said anyone would could give a minimum of a half-day’s worth of time a week would be making a big difference.

The drivers would help operate the charity’s Ring and Ride service and wheelchair transport scheme, as well as help on weekend journeys.

He added: “The bus drivers are so important - without them, some of the services we offer would grind to a halt.

“They make an invaluable difference to the quality of life of really isolated people.

“Our drivers are the public face of TRIP.”

Anyone interested in becoming a voluntary driver needs to have a D1 on their licence - enabling them to operate a 15-seat minibus.

They can discuss voluntary roles with Neil at TRIP’s New Street offices.

Councillor Henry Brown, mayor of Honiton, said: “TRIP is essential to many elderly and geographically isolated people who can’t drive or rely on public transport.

“The service takes people on day trips out, as well as liaising with the Honiton 55 centre.

“Many people in our community simply couldn’t get by without it.”

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