Hop On The Hopper
8:43am 30th August 2012
Following its successful relaunch, the Swanage Hopper community bus service has recently celebrated its third birthday and is going from strength to strength, with partners and passengers singing its praises.
The Swanage Hopper offers door to door return trips for passengers with transport and mobility problems every Tuesday. It brings people in from the surrounding area to the town centre, market, Swanage Hospital and Durlston Country Park.
The Hopper bus also collects passengers from home and takes them to a local restaurant for the lunch club organised by the Dorset Partnership for Older People Project (POPP).
Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for transport Cllr Peter Finney said:
“This extremely popular service is going from strength to strength. It is a great community project, with several organisations working together to make sure people in Swanage who find it hard to get around can get into town can enjoy the lunch club and get out to Durlston.”
Nan Hart, aged 93, is a regular passenger. She said: “The bus is wonderful as it takes us to places we would not see. The drivers are so kind and helpful; we are so lucky to have it.”
The county council’s passenger transport service, Dorset Passenger Transport (DPT), operates the Hopper, providing as many wheelchair accessible vehicles and drivers as are needed. The usual bus carries 10 seated passengers with space for three wheelchairs. Sometimes a second bus is used which can carry an extra 10 passengers and two wheelchairs.
As well as working with POPP, DPT also works closely with Swanage Day Centre which arranges the vehicles and drivers and the Swanage Area Senior Forum which helps with promotion and managing the finances.
Trevor Ayling, chairman of the Swanage Area Seniors Forum, said:
“Swanage is an unusual place, almost unique, as over 30% of residents are elderly; many are immobile and stuck at home. Access to the town centre is difficult because of the hills. There is no bus service around the town and taxis can be hard to use for some people.
“The Hopper bus is invaluable in collecting the elderly from their doorstep and taking them back again. Meeting with new found friends for lunch has become a real winner and has brought real joy to over 60 seniors. If we had the resources, we could easily touch many more who are on our waiting list.”
Purbeck district councillor Bill Trite said: “Over the last three years, the Swanage Hopper community bus has proved itself a very useful and popular service for local older people, especially those who have difficulty using public transport and need help with their shopping.”
Anyone wanting to use the service needs to register with DPT on 01305 221059. They just have to pay a £1 membership fee, then return trips to Swanage or the lunch club cost just £3; no doctor’s or health carer’s note is needed.