Saltash community group launches dedicated hospital bus

Saltash hospital hopper bus Image copyright Community Enterprises PL12
Image caption The service, which begins in Saltash at 06:45, is being used by hospital staff, patients and visitors, with the last bus of the day leaving Derriford at 20:15

A local community has launched its own dedicated bus service to help people get to and from hospital.

The bus operates weekday returns directly from Saltash in Cornwall to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital.

Community Enterprises PL12 set up the service at the request of local people as there is no direct commercial route.

The 16-seater was provided through the Department for Transport's minibus fund, and start-up costs helped by a £5,000 grant from Saltash Town Council.

Peter Thistlethwaite, Community Enterprises chairman, said the Saltash hospital hopper, which has wheelchair access, was set up at the request of the community, after attempts to persuade commercial bus companies to offer a service for the five-mile journey failed.

Demand for the service, which began in January, has been growing steadily with passengers including hospital staff, patients and visitors.

It is now operating eight outward and return journeys per day from Monday to Friday, with return tickets costing £4.50.

The direct bus takes about 15 to 20 minutes during off-peak times - at least 30 minutes faster than using a commercial service.

"We obviously need to generate income to sustain the service, but we're hopeful that will be the case and we can keep it going," Mr Thistlethwaite said.

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