BUSTLER community transport buses are continuing to operate in Woking during the coronavirus crisis, providing vital links with shops and medical facilities.

The Dial-a-Ride door-to-door service for residents of Woking borough with reduced mobility is also being used to transport hospital patients to free up acute wards and making food deliveries.

The main changes have been that the minibuses can now carry only one passenger at a time, to ensure social distancing. The Woking Town Centre Buggy service operated by Bustler has, however, been suspended.

Stephen Morris, the general manager of Woking Community Transport, said that drivers aged over 70 and those with people in their households with Covid-19 symptoms were not at work, but there were enough drivers for the more than 20 buses.

Office staff, including Stephen and Guy Padfield-Wilkins, the managing director, were driving some buses.

Guy said Woking Community Transport is adapting to support the needs of the NHS and local authorities during the crisis. 

“We have received requests from Surrey County Council to deliver emergency food parcels to shielded individuals, across seven Surrey boroughs,” he added.

“Within two hours of receiving the requests, we mobilised vehicles and drivers, produced schedules, briefed drivers on the task, and were loading parcels from the distribution centre. A remarkable effort from everyone involved.

“We are also increasing the number of vehicles on the non-emergency patient transport service and transporting patients into three different clinical locations in Woking, Chertsey, and Staines, while continuing to provide transport to the elderly for doctor appointments and essential food shopping. 

“We have provided transport for the Woking Foodbank, distributing vital supplies, and are assisting with the provision of drivers for the Woking Meals on Wheels Service.”

Stephen said the office phone numbers had been diverted to staff working from home, which meant that bookings could continue. Trips can be booked from about 8am, about an hour earlier than usual.

To use the Bustler Dial-A-Ride, you must first register via the membership page on the website. Fares are subsidised and start at £3.50 for a single trip, with a journey to St Peter’s Hospital costing £8.

An article on Woking Community Transport has been published in The Parliamentary Review, co-chaired by former ministers Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, aims to share and promote best practice among executives and policymakers.

For more information, visit  www.wokingbustler.org.uk. To book a Bustler, call 014830 724433.