Dial-A-Bus services resumed on 16 August under the new name of 'WLcomBus' (West Lothian Community Bus). These services are operated by HcL (Handicabs Lothian) on behalf of West Lothian Council. HcL are a long-standing local Charity, set up in 1982 as Handicabs (Lothian), to provide accessible transport for elderly people and people with mobility challenges in Edinburgh and the Lothians. However, Dial-A-Bus services were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly branded 'WLcomBus' offers another public transport option for people who are unable to use normal bus services, providing links to shopping centres and supermarkets.
Following a Total Transport Review, West Lothian Council committed to supporting HcL (as a third sector organisation) in obtaining the necessary licences to accept concessionary card holders on Dial-A-Bus services.
The registration of these services allows National Entitlement Card holders to travel a number of destinations for free.
With the added enhancement of the door-through-door supported transport service is the core of HcLs services, this will help users rebuild their confidence and sense of freedom to return to shopping centres/supermarkets as they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon their return on 16 August, the WLcomBus service has been operating in the same way as Dial-A-Bus before.
Passengers will need to pre-book their journey with HcL. Journeys can be booked by calling 01506 633336, Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm, up to 7 days in advance and up to one hour before the scheduled start time, subject to availability.
Journeys can also be booked by emailing Bathgate@handicabs.org.uk with a notice period of 2 hours required.
Passengers will be picked up from their home address, with the driver escorting passengers from their home to and onto the bus. It is also possible for these services to pick up intending bus passengers at bus stops along the line of route to the specified destinations, providing there is available space on-board, however it is always advised to pre-book in the first instance. Drivers can assist passengers with their shopping onto the bus and then into their home.
Details of the new routes from HcL can be found on HcL's website
Executive Councillor for Development and Transport, Cathy Muldoon said: "It's great the Dial-A-Bus services will be coming back as the new 'WLcomBus'. These services provide a lifeline to those who might have difficulty using other services on the main bus network for a variety of reasons. After over a year of isolation for some of the most vulnerable in our society, the door-through-door aspect of the service which sees passengers picked up at their home and taken directly to their destination, will hopefully improve confidence and increase their ability to access local amenities once more."