A new bookable minibus service, running twice a week, will link residents of villages in the Hambleden Valley with Marlow and Henley.
The six-month community transport pilot scheme starts on Tuesday 13th January 2015 as a result of a survey of 600 homes in the Valley, which showed a need for a shopping bus.
The £4,500 cost of the experiment is being met by Buckinghamshire County Council’s South West Chilterns and Marlow Local Area Forum (LAF).
County Council Community Links Officer Tom Hudson said the survey showed that Valley residents who had no access to a car, found it difficult to drive, or were too young to drive, would prefer not to rely on neighbours or family for shopping trips, or for appointments in town.
Residents will be able to book the Tuesday and Thursday minibuses by midday the day before by phoning their reservation to 01491 313114.
The minibus driver will chart a flexible route through Turville, Frieth, Fingest, Skirmett and Hambleden to pick up passengers from their homes and run them to Marlow for shopping on a Tuesday, and to Henley market on a Thursday. Passengers will get the door-to-door service for a flat return fare of £5.
County Councillor Jean Teesdale, Chairman of the LAF, said: ‘We’re very keen to respond to what residents are saying, which is why we’re supporting this pilot as one of our Local Priorities. After six months we’ll review and decide whether it should seek to continue as a formal community transport scheme.‘
The pilot, being run by Hambleden Valley Community Transport (HVCT), uses spare capacity on the Henley Handibus scheme, and complements a community car scheme in Hambleden Valley started by Marlow Age Concern in May (2014) for medical appointments.
The last time buses served the Valley was between 2004 and 2009 when the Hambleden Rider linked the village with Marlow and the railway station six times a day.