WORRIED community bus users in Bracknell Forest met last week to discuss their
concerns about the level of
service they will receive now that one provider is closing down.
Groups across the district were previously served by two companies, Forest Line and Keep Mobile, until the service was put out to tender by the borough council and the contract awarded to Keep Mobile after Forest Line failed to submit an application.
Now Forest Line is to cease operating from next week, and at the meeting last week at the Downside Resource Centre, users said they were "anxious" about the future.
Cis Allwright, of the Alzheimer's Society Bracknell Branch, said: "All we want to know is that we will be picked up and brought back home, and that they can cope with the workload."
Ron Crew, spokesman for the Bracknell Forest Senior Citizens Forum, said: "We
were assured not to worry and that things would be seamless but that was not entirely
"It is a very great pity that Forest Line is closing and that they did not even put in a bid.
"All we can do now is seek assurances that our members will be looked after."
Concerns were raised that drivers had already been having problems with picking people up, there was confusion about pick-up and drop-off points and there was worry about how the service would be monitored.
A spokesperson for one elderly persons' luncheon club, who did not wish to be identified, said: "We have been experiencing difficulties where they weren't able to get us there on time or didn't turn up."
Vic Catania of the Bracknell Forest MS Society said: "There must be a means of identifying if the service is coming up to specification.
"So far we have not been told how users can say if the service is satisfactory.
"We should have some input.
"If you don't ask the customer, you don't know what the customer wants."
But at a meeting of an advisory panel the night before, a Keep Mobile spokesman had said the company could take on all the work, that it was "no problem" but that adjusting to the new arrangements would "take time".
He added the company would be happy to meet with user groups to discuss the operation.
Carol Dann, also of the Bracknell Forest MS Society and a former committee
member at Forest Line, said people had to "give things a chance".
She said: "We have to try and look at this logically and be positive.
"It's been done and there is nothing more we can do.
"The problem was that no one let the users know what was happening and they panicked.
"But we have all got to use Keep Mobile now so we must give things a chance."
Groups will now prepare monthly updates about the quality of service they are receiving and will meet again in May to discuss how things are going.