Demand for volunteer car service peaks and leads to plea for more drivers.

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TRIP Community Transport Association received more than 500 requests for lifts to hospital from patients in Honiton last month.

The New Street-based charity, which runs a voluntary car service, says it needs to recruit more drivers to cope with increasing demand.

It has previously investigated running a mini-bus service to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, but says costs would have been prohibitive.

Neil Hurlock, the charity’s office manager, revealed TRIP is currently in discussions with Devon County Council over the possible launch of an ‘on demand’ service for wheelchair users going to health appointments.

“It would expand on what we currently do,” he told the Midweek Herald.

Mr Hurlock says that consultations with TRIP users found that people do not want to pay a variable rate for hospital transport.

Most people, he said, want to travel at a time that fits in with their appointment and return home as soon as possible afterwards, rather than getting there too early or having to hang around after.

Passengers have also revealed that they either do not want (or can’t) walk to a pick-up point and wait for transport.

“They prefer to be picked up at home,” said Mr Hurlock.

TRIP had looked at operating a timetabled service, under a Section 22 permit, to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, which would have been part of the free bus pass shceme.

However, the charity could not afford the huge subsidies that would have been needed to run the vehicle every day with very few passengers - and the county council would not have funded it.

If you would like to find out more about being part of TRIP’s volunteer driver team, pop into the office in Honiton or call 01404 46529.

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