A PETITION has been launched by an MP calling on changes to a ring and ride service to be scrapped because campaigners say it will leave the elderly isolated.
Bury South MP Ivan Lewis has called on Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to reconsider its decision to put a stop to journeys in excess of six miles on ring and ride services, which provide a door-to-door minibus for people who find it difficult to use public transport.
Mr Lewis said the decision has hit the disabled and vulnerable who rely on the service to get around. He has pledged to raise the issue with transport bosses.
He said: “I am very concerned at the impact these new rules are having on the quality of life for disabled and older people in Bury and across Greater Manchester.
“Six miles is an arbitrary limit which takes no account of people’s individual circumstances or regular commitments.
“I fully accept that there is a need to make difficult choices as the full impact of this Tory-led Government cuts hit home.
“However, in this case, I am not convinced potential alternative solutions have been properly explored.”
Andy Hazeldine, chief officer of Age UK Bury, said the changes had hit older people travelling to the charity’s Jubilee Centre base, which provides opportunities for older people to socialise.
He said: “My concern is that because of the geography of the town, people living in Bury will not be able to get from one end of the town to the other.
“Somebody from Prestwich who wants to go and see someone in Ramsbottom would not be able to, and vice versa.
“As a community, we want people to stay connected and to be able to get about, and the six-mile limit seems quite arbitrary.”
Bernard Rowen, managing director of Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Limited (GMATL), which runs ring and ride services, said bosses would conduct a review of the six-mile limit in October.
He said: “The six-mile limit was introduced in April, along with a number of other service changes, including longer operating hours for travel into neighbouring districts.
“Ring and Ride is essentially a local service and our average trip is around three miles long. We estimate that around 97 per cent of our passengers make journeys of under six miles so this limit makes the most effective and efficient use of the fleet.
“A full review of the impact of the six-mile criteria will be made in October. In advance of this, we will be holding a forum in each of the 10 Greater Manchester districts so that key stakeholders such as councillors and MPs and passengers can speak to us about the service.”