Free travel on Dial-A-Bus "a lifeline"

HcL Dial-A-Bus

New rules allowing anyone with a bus pass to travel free on the Midlothian Dial-A-Bus service are already proving a “lifeline” to local people, says Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Colin Cassidy.

All aboard

Cllr Cassidy jumped aboard the service, run by the charity HcL Transport, recently to hear from passengers heading to Morrisons in Gilmerton on how Dial-A-Bus is making a difference to their lives.

Can't use public transport 

He said: “It’s a fantastic door-through-door service supporting anyone with a mobility challenge – and that can be someone elderly, with a disability or even just those in a remote area with no local public transport – get to and from the shops. 

Helps during cost-of-living crisis

“There are around 7,500 trips a year and with passengers paying £4 for a round trip, that can add up. Speaking to people onboard today, I’m hearing that being able to use a concessionary bus pass from 1 February this year and travel free has been a real lifeline, especially during the current cost of living crisis.”

Happy customer

Moira Campbell, pictured front left in the picture, uses the Dial-A-Bus service twice a week. She says: “It’s not just the shopping, it’s the social aspects too. We like a caper.” 

Above and beyond

Moira says driver Russell Scott and the team escort her to and from the bus and carry her shopping. “They’ll even open my jars if I can’t,” she says. Moira was paying around £8 a week for two round trips but being able to use her bus pass now “is a real help”.  

Check if you would benefit

Cllr Cassidy said he’d urge anyone who finds it difficult to use public transport to visit the HcL website.

Just need to register

He said: “The service operates Tuesday to Friday across Midlothian and you just need to register to use it. There are different routes each day, all of them heading to an accessible shopping centre.”

Spaces for wheelchairs

While the 10-seater bus will pick up passengers from bus stops if space is available onboard, it is best to book in advance. There are spaces for two wheelchairs. 

Changes to the licence

HcL’s Chief Executive Kelvin Cochrane says: “I would like to thank Midlothian Council for their support in changing the service from a section 19 to a section 22 Operators licence, allowing people to use their concessionary passes.

Feel part of the community

“This will allow more people to use the service at no cost, greatly helping people access their local amenities and supermarkets. The Dial-A-Bus service enables people to get out of their home, meet people and feel part of their community. On the bus, people who would not know each other without this service, have a great comradery, they look out for each other and keep in touch out with the Dial-A -Bus service.”

Supporting the service

Cllr Cassidy added: “We’re delighted to be continuing to support HcL transport, which also offers a Dial-A-Ride service for individual journeys. It’s been lovely to hear about how the service is helping people get out and about to the shops while meeting new people. 

Visit the website

In the picture

Pictured with Moira Campbell and Dial-A-Bus customers are Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Colin Cassidy pictured second back on left with HCL’s Fundraising and Marketing Manager Dolina Gorman in front of him and Driver Russell Scott at the back.

23 Feb 2024