Julie Banks, Scarborough Dial A Ride
Scarborough Dial A Ride has been in existence for over 34 years, providing fully accessible, safe and affordable transport to the urban and rural communities around Scarborough and Filey. Our fleet of 9 fully accessible minibuses and one accessible car is staffed in the main with volunteer drivers and passenger escorts.
Every 18 months or so we undertake a survey of our passengers to make sure we are providing a service that meets their transport needs and help identify any changes or improvements we need to make.
Over the course of 2 weeks in August this year we distributed 164 questionnaires to everyone that travelled, or handed them to carers, parents and guardians if appropriate. In total we received 134 responses – a magnificent return rate of 82%, particularly when you consider that there was no incentive to complete the survey and many put a stamp on to return the form.
Overall, 100% of our passengers were happy with our services, with 91% saying our service was excellent and 9% rating us as good.
In terms of the demographics of our respondents, results showed that over half are over the age of 80, not surprising for towns like Scarborough and Filey with their popularity as places to retire. 10% were aged 25 or under and the ratio of women to men had increased since our last survey from 70% to 78%. Low car ownership and dependency of community transport was highlighted in the fact that 92% do not own a car coupled with the statistic that 87% of our respondents say they have a mobility problem.
When asked why people use Dial A Ride, the main reason (90%) say it is because of the door to door service followed by helpful staff (82%), closely followed the fact that we are reliable (80%) and affordable (79%). It is interesting to see that 54% of people enjoyed using Dial A Ride because they meet other people on the bus.
In light of recent events it is concerning to see that despite being eligible for free bus passes, half of our passengers state they have difficulty in using public transport (an increase of 4%) combined with 43% that point to the lack of nearby bus routes (up 18%). A third of our passengers also say that they simply cannot afford to use taxis – the Borough of Scarborough continues to be the most deprived district in North Yorkshire so this is not surprising.
We know that community transport improves the quality of life for passengers and a resounding 98% of ours agree. Our services help tackle loneliness, reduce social isolation and keep people independent – all important factors in supporting passengers’ health and well-being thereby reducing dependency on NHS and social care services, both of which have seen services drastically reduced or cut in recent years. Among the specific benefits of using Dial A Ride, is that passengers make new friends (53%), feel less isolated (49%), are more confident (44%) and have a more positive outlook (33%).
The real stars are, unsurprisingly, our drivers and passenger escorts (the majority of whom are volunteers) and the high regard in which they are held by passengers, carers, parents and guardians is evident in the comments that respondents took the time to make. Just a small sample of these can be found on the questionnaire results, which you can find in full here.