Wanderbus II launched to improve Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire bus links

Whitbread Wanderbus chairman Paul Lanham with Nick Doolan from Central Beds Council at the Launch of

Whitbread Wanderbus chairman Paul Lanham with Nick Doolan from Central Beds Council at the Launch of Wanderbus II. Picture: Richard Thomas, Hertsman Images - Credit: Richard Thomas Hertsman Images - fine to use with credit

Villagers in Mid Beds have had the benefit of extra transport links after a second community bus was unveiled at a ceremony in Meppershall.

Operator Whitbread Wanderbus officially launched the Wanderbus II – which will operate alongside the firm’s existing Wanderbus model – to increase current services to Baldock, Hitchin and Letchworth and further afield in Welwyn, Bedford and Milton Keynes, with new weekly services to Biggleswade and St Neots.

Operations manager Jenny Gilbert said: “Residents of Stotfold will now have a direct service into Bedford and Biggleswade and our new schedule will, for the first time, cover services from Upper Caldecote and Northill. Many of the other local villages will receive a weekly service rather than fortnightly, continuing to fill the gaps not covered by commercial services.”

Whitbread Wanderbus is run by volunteers who have been providing fixed-route services to both fare paying and concessionary travel passengers from their Shefford base to the surrounding villages and towns for more than 26 years, with passenger usage helping them to fund services. The second bus was provided thanks to funding from the Department for Transport.

A DfT spokesman said: “Voluntary transport organisations are a key part of the communities they serve, and that is why we are supporting them through our £25 million community minibus fund.

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“Wanderbus provide a vital service in Bedfordshire, transporting people who are elderly or cut off from the town to local shops and amenities, and this new DfT-funded minibus will help them continue their good work.”

Unlike bus companies, Wanderbus drivers can drop passengers as close to home as possible, as long as it is safe and legal to do so, and will help with heavy shopping, pushchairs and walking aids.

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Senior public transport officer for Central Beds Council, Nick Doolan was there to officially cut the ribbon on the new Orion Plus model from supplier, Mellor Coachcraft.

To assist funding, both buses are available to schools and clubs for private hire. For more information on bus routes or bookings, call 0300 123 3023 or go to www.wanderbus.org.uk.

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