Operator

miniplus June issue 31

operator OPERATOR | D&G LITTLE BUS miniplus.co.uk | June 2017 | 27 Putting the D&G into Cheshire East’s DRT Demand-responsive transport for vulnerable users requires a great deal of care from the operator and its drivers, but when done well it makes a real difference to people’s everyday lives Demand responsive transport (DRT) is a specialised part of the minibus world. It requires an operator and drivers that are able not only to deal with routes that change on a daily basis, but who can also handle the task of carrying passengers who are often vulnerable. D&G Little Bus is lucky that it has a team of staff that takes these needs in their stride. Its 11 accessible minibuses serve a Cheshire East Council DRT contract, and they operate from the same base in Crewe that houses D&G’s fleet of larger buses. In July 2018 D&G will have had the Cheshire East DRT contract for five years, and it will be retendered at that point. Prior to it going to D&G, the work was divided between two smaller operators. Since it moved, passenger demand has grown, says Senior Traffic Office Supervisor Paula Cheshire, who has responsibility for the DRT service. “I was a driver before I came off the road, and I know that the job is as easy or as hard as you want to make it,” she explains. “Drivers are the backbone of Little Bus. They have a lot to do apart from just driving, but they go above and beyond. They go to passengers’ front doors and help them on and off the minibus and they also carry users’ shopping for them.” It might be surprising to hear that, in a world where staff swap employers regularly, Little Bus enjoys a stable workforce. Almost all of the drivers that were TUPE’d across from the previous operators remain with D&G, and a handful of others have joined as the service has grown. The 11 minibuses meet a peak requirement of nine, so what is the secret of doing this work well? Tim Deakin Editor Paula Cheshire (left) and Sally George handle Little Bus bookings at Crewe depot Drivers are the backbone of Little Bus. They have a lot to do, but they go above and beyond


miniplus June issue 31
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