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Campaigners question timing of new bus service
RELATIVES with no transport have the chance to pay £20 to catch a bus to Macclesfield Hospital and back after a new service was set up for Knutsford residents.
But health campaigners have questioned if the bus is running at the right time for those wanting to visit.
The bus has been set up after hospital bosses at East Cheshire NHS Trust decided to close the Tatton Ward at Knutsford’s Community Hospital in April.
The current number 27 bus service to Macclesfield no longer operates in the evening, and this new service will enable families to visit relatives in the evening visiting period and is cheaper than a taxi, according to the operators.
Cheshire Community Development Trust, which is operating the bus, said it was approached by the East Cheshire NHS Trust to run the service The hospital trust also worked with Cheshire Community Action to establish the scheme for the town.
Arthur Neil, chief executive of Cheshire Community Development Trust, told the Guardian the bus service would run for a trial period of six months for one day a week – a Tuesday – and picks up people at 5.30pm.
But the poster advertising the service states it then leaves the hospital site 30 minutes later.
“The funding has come from the East Cheshire NHS Trust and they approached Cheshire Community Action who then approached us,” he said.
“We have decided to make a bus available for one evening a week for a period of six months.
“Taxi fares are quite high so we thought we would make it a little bit cheaper so family members can see their loved ones.
“It needs to pay for itself in the end after we got a grant to get it started, but we need people to make it a viable service.
“If we get half a dozen people using it at the time then that would cover it, for the driver, the fuel and the vehicle, which we get from Cheshire West and Chester Council.”
But Charlotte Peters-Rock, who campaigned for the Tatton Ward to remain open, told the Guardian the bus would not get people there in time for the allocated visiting periods.
“According to the timetable for the 27, the daily return cost is £5 for adults and £3.30 for children and a weekly ticket costs £18 for adults and £9 for children,” she said.
“This is a bit different to the proposed arrangement of £20 but for a bus which only runs on a Tuesday and you have to climb back onto the bus as soon as it arrives in Macclesfield.
“I also note that 5.30pm does not coincide with visiting times, which run from 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 8pm.”
The bus will start on September 3.
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