A community bus service is urgently seeking new volunteer drivers as it gets ready to expand its network.
The Whitbread Wanderbus needs new drivers, as it fears that it may not be possible to man its proposed new routes if no-one comes forward – while existing services may have to be curtailed.
Secretary of the wanderbus committee, Paul Lanham, explained: “We are revising our schedule of routes at the moment. Circumstances are changing all the time – for instance with the new development at Fairfield Park and that sort of thing.
“We do have a maximum age for our drivers of 70, and unfortunately one or two of our drivers have come up to that age. We’re always looking for new drivers.”
The bus, which celebrates its silver jubilee in December, is based in Shefford. It provides a regular minibus services from villages in Central Beds to libraries, shopping centres and other amenities, and is aimed at those who live in places that are not served by public transport.
Its destinations include Bedford, Letchworth, Stevenage, Baldock and even Milton Keynes and Welwyn Garden City.
Unlike other buses, the Wanderbus can drop passengers close to their front door, provided it is not too far from the scheduled route, and the bus can be hailed along its routes. Drivers can also help lift shopping and small trollies. The bus is also available for private hire at weekends.
While many of its users hold bus passes, it is available for use by anyone, with the committee trying to encourage fare paying passengers to use it as well.
The Whitbread Wanderbus is a non-profit organisation and any money raised through fares goes towards the cost of replacing the bus – which is done every eight years.
Volunteer drivers must be under the age of 70 and have a full driving licence. No previous experience is necessary as full training is given, and the time commitment need not be more than a few hours each month.
Paul added: “It’s really a question of when the volunteers are available, they can do as little or as much as they like. We do need more people because at the moment the ones we’ve got are quite stretched. They are doing a wonderful job, but it would help to ease the burden on them.”
To find out more about the bus service, or to volunteer, call 0300 123 3023 and leave a message or email thewander email@example.com.
Routes and other information can be found on the website, at www.wanderbus.org.uk.