This morning I visited Dial A Ride HQ in Southwark. They provide an on demand door to door transport service for disabled people, and are a division of TfL surface transport. The fleet is made up of 350 vehicles, including several new minibuses - designed with input from users -which are being rolled out in London Buses colours. I am pictured standing in front of a new vehicle, each of these costs some £65,000.
Recently they have switched to a central call centre and computerised booking system which has been experiencing teething troubles. Members have received complaints from users all over London. I visited the call centre and saw the work being done to improve response times. The time taken to answer the phone is down to an average 1 min 20 secs, but during peak demand times this rises to 3 mins 42 secs. Low numbers but to frail and elderly people hanging on the line it can still seem like an eternity.
An 0845 number is now used, because BT provide the facility to switch lines if there is a technical failure, but some users are concerned that they have to pay so an alternative 0207 number is being introduced.
The number of trips, measured as the number of people carried has also fallen, partly because the service has moved away from 'mass outings' to focus on journeys for individuals, better tailored to their needs.
With new systems still bedding in, Dial A Ride managers appreciate the need to improve the service they provide. In the New Year they will be giving evidence to the Assembly transport committee and they expect to be able to report better performance.