Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital bus link welcomed by campaigners
A long sought after bus service linking Haverhill with West Suffolk Hospital will be launched next month, much to the delight of campaigners.
The service, which passengers can book through the online community transport service called ‘RIDE’, will be provided by The Voluntary Network - Suffolk County Council’s Connecting Communities operator in West Suffolk.
A six-month pilot will start on August 1, linking the town’s bus station with the hospital 18 miles away.
Villages close to the A143 will also have opportunities to use the service which will operate, on demand, Monday to Friday, between 7am and 7pm. Passengers will be charged fares in line with local bus services. A full return trip will cost £8.
Cllr Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, who worked behind the scenes with Haverhill county councillor David Roach to get the service in place, said:“If you need to get to hospital for an appointment, to visit someone or even work there, you need viable travel options.
"I am just one of the many people who have been asking for a direct bus service from Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital for years, so I’m absolutely delighted that Suffolk County Council has been able to offer this new service. I am especially pleased that people from the villages along the A143 route will be able to use the service.
“We now need people to make this a viable long-term option by using it as regularly as possible.
"With opportunities to book on demand return journeys each day, I think this will help people make the journeys they need.”
Cllr Roach added: "It's something that lots of people have been asking for for a long time."
Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said:“It’s extremely good news that Suffolk County Council has put this pilot in place.
"We know there are transport challenges for our more rural patients.
"This service will provide a much needed solution for our patients and staff travelling to and from Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital, to access our CQC-rated ‘outstanding’ services more easily.”
Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “I am so pleased that from August 1 e pilot of the Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital bus service will be launched.
"Rural transport and getting to hospital can be challenging for some people, so it is great news that Suffolk County Council has put this scheme in place – it will be of huge benefit to the residents of Haverhill.”
RIDE is a pre-booked service to help improve transport in the rural areas of Suffolk. Suffolk County Council and the NHS West Suffolk Clinic Commissioning Group need NHS staff and hospital visitors to support and use the new RIDE service.
Its success will ensure the future operation and sustainability of rural transport in Suffolk.
To book a journey with RIDE, you can go online at www.bookyourride.co.uk at any time or call 01638 664304 Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm.
People are also able to suggest other pilot routes using the “Suggest Future routes” section of the RIDE website.