Ring and Ride jobs may head to borough

Around a dozen staff could be transferring to Wigan as part of a shake-up for the region's Ring and Ride services.

Thursday, 30th November 2017, 11:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:10 am
Twelve Ring and Ride jobs may be moving to Wigan

Staff at the community minibus operator’s depot in the Burnden area of Bolton are currently being consulted over their futures.

And if the move goes ahead, six drivers and 12 minibuses will be shifted from the Summerfield Road depot to Ring and Ride’s base in Makerfield Way, Ince.

Fifteen staff are based at the Wigan depot, offering public transport for those like the elderly, visually-impaired and those with learning or mobility problems who may struggle with conventional buses and taxis. They will be unaffected by the plan.

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The jobs announcement comes after the Wigan Post reported in July that Ring and Ride, which is supported by the 10 Greater Manchester authorities, was considering making a number of efficiency savings, including a possible fares hike.

Customers in the Bolton area are understood to have expressed concerns regarding the prospect of Wigan-based drivers making morning pick-ups on time in a different borough, given peak-time congestion difficulties.

Councillors have also expressed concerns that some drivers may ultimately not want to transfer from Bolton to Wigan.

Bernard Rowen, managing director of Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Ltd (GMATL), which runs Ring and Ride, said in a statement: "We are currently holding a consultation with staff members about a proposal to operate the Bolton Ring and Ride services from Wigan depot.

"Should the proposal go ahead, we do not anticipate that there will be any redundancies or reduction in service to users in the Bolton area."

Bosses at GMATL have been looking at a number of potential savings provisions during 2017, which could eventually reduce their overall budget by £690,000, after it emerged that their annual operating costs were outstripping the grant provided on behalf of the county’s councils, including Wigan.

Until now the grant has been supplemented by revenues generated by Ring and Ride and GMATL’s own reserves.

A new suggested fare of £1.50 has been put forward, after Ring and Ride members were consulted about their views earlier this year.

The price rose from £1 to £1.20 in 2016 but there had not been a review for five years.

Another possibility, as part of proposals being considered by Transport for Greater Manchester, could be that holders of the concessionary plus pass would no longer be entitled to use Ring and Ride for free.

A travel voucher initiative, which also entitles people to use social cars, could also be withdrawn as the two sides look to balance the books.

The age range for using the service, for those without significant disabilities, was officially increased from 60 to 70 last summer.