Blind 90-year-old’s desperate plea: ‘I’ll be stuck in my home if you scrap Dial A Ride’

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THOUSANDS of people could face isolation if community transport funding is cut as part of county council savings.

Hampshire County Council has proposed to cut Dial-a-Ride, community transport and subsidised bus routes in a bid to save £4m but residents in Fareham say it will have a ‘devastating’ effect.

Betty Richards is legally registered blind and uses the Dial-a-Ride service to get to the town centre.

The 90-year-old said: ‘The service means every week I have something to look forward to and without Dial-a-Ride I would be stuck in my home every day and I would not go out much at all.’

The cost of the service is currently split between Hampshire and the local district councils but the county council has proposed the possibility of making £5m if each concession bus pass holder pays 50p per journey.

Betty added: ‘I have thought for quite a while that they should charge more than they do.

‘I don’t know how they do it for the price they do.

I would be more than willing to double what I pay for what I get for it.’

Community Action Fareham operates three Dial-a- Ride buses and 13 minibuses across the Fareham and Gosport areas.

Chief executive Paul O’Beirne said: ‘The most serious impact of losing Dial-a- Ride and Community Transport would be on the health and well-being of older people.

‘It would increase their social isolation in their loneliness would be much greater; we constantly receive comments that their trip is their only chance to get out and it would also mean that many clubs would not be able to bring their members and so would become non-viable themselves.’

Mr O’Beirne added: ‘Every bus pass user we have spoken to since the proposal has said that they would be very happy to make that contribution in order to save Dial-a-Ride.

‘This seems a good idea and every effort should be made to enable it to happen.’