Pompey Dial Ride operator says customers turning to taxi's over council-run service

CUSTOMERS of a transport service that took over from Pompey Dial Ride say it is not up to the job, meaning people are getting taxis instead, the service's former operator has said.

Tuesday, 8th August 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:05 pm
Tracey Jones, former operator of Pompey Dial Ride

Pompey Dial Ride, which provided transport for thousands of Portsmouth’s vulnerable people, closed in May due to a lack of funds.

Portsmouth City Council launched a replacement service for its customers that were left struggling to get around.

However, Tracey Jones, who ran the service, said that her old customers are turning to taxis and have complaints about the new service.

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The new council-run service does not take people to prearranged medical appointments and will only meet passengers at the door of their building to help them to the vehicle, not to come to their front door.

A councillor said its new service is not like-for-like.

Ms Jones said: ‘I am not getting great feedback about the new service and I really do not understand what they are doing.

‘People are not happy about it and are telling me they are instead forking out to get a taxi instead.

‘What about those who aren’t steady on their feet and need help carrying their shopping up the stairs in their block of flats? We used to provide this as a basic part of the service, making sure these people were safe indoors before we left.

‘It is ridiculous that they won’t take people to see their doctor or dentist – that was a core part of the service.’

Ms Jones formed the non-profit organisation in 2015 to rebrand the service under the name Pompey Dial Ride when its former entity Pompey Dial-a-Ride was axed.

A business plan was developed for the new service under the guidance of Liberal Democrat city councillors, with the plan being that the service would need £15,000 this year to keep it going.

The council said no plan was negotiated between Ms Jones and the council over the £15,000. It said that it had negotiated a deal to hand over £35,000 last October and stated that no further funding would come unless a formal application was received – and that none was sent.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem leader said: ‘The council was meant to produce £15,000 this year but never produced a penny. My worry is that Pompey Dial Ride was rejected on a personal basis and vulnerable people are now being affected by this as more taxpayers’ money is being spent on this service which could have been provided better by Tracey.’

The new service costs £3,000 a month to run.

Councillor Simon Bosher, cabinet member for transportation said: ‘It is sad that Pompey Dial Ride no longer operates. Since the previous administration cut their funding, we have worked closely with the company to support it, providing finances when asked, but ultimately it seems they could not build a sustainable business.

‘Unfortunately, the council cannot offer a like-for-like replacement but we have put in place an interim service to try to support those vulnerable residents who used its main service of making ad-hoc trips around the city while a long-term solution is worked on.’