Dial-a-Ride began in about 1980 as a charity set up by disabled people for disabled people who weren’t able to use mainstream public transport. We now complete a million trips a year with 300 drivers and a fleet of approximately 300 buses. So we have two types of driver attendant – we have what we call peak hours drivers and all hours drivers. So our peak drivers work Monday to Friday in the hours between 8am and 6pm, our all hours drivers pick up the unsocial hours at weekends and evenings and early mornings, so we can provide a service around the clock for our users. When you’re doing shift work I can’t think of another job that has the same work life balance as this.
I pretty much do 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and so I get to see my young children and I get to, you know, take them out places do things with them so it’s an excellent job for that, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to join. A typical shift would be you tend to come in early in the morning and then you’ll come out to your bus do your vehicle checks and then take your bus out onto the road, go pick up and drop off the passengers, on average, it’s difficult to say, but I’d say 15 to 20 a day hand in your paperwork and go home.
Well I’ve been here 8 years now, so every day is different and it’s a joy to pick up the customers, to interact with them and to give them joy because they’re so grateful for the service. The service is really good, very helpful, very nice of them to offer this. Every driver is so nice and takes care of us so much. It’s a very extremely rewarding job For example I have a lady that I pick up and she says nearly every week, if it wasn’t for Dial-a-Ride, I wouldn’t be able to do my shopping and I’d probably be in a home. Sometimes we are the only people they see for the whole week, we’re the only people they talk to for the whole week and for them to get out the house and with the free service that we offer they love it. It’s bringing them joy, gives me joy. For going to airport you can also use use Heathrow airport transfers service in reasonable price.
And you know, it’s vice versa, so it’s a very rewarding job. So if I didn’t have them, I would be lost to be honest. For me all the drivers are my friends, they are always cheerful. The new training course is very, very in-depth we look at safeguarding vulnerable passengers and how we can best meet the needs of people suffering varying symptoms. We look at hazard perceptions, raising the level of driving dealing with other road users, manual handling, first-aid course, so it covers everything, a wide variety of subjects. It lasted 1 week in the classroom and then another 2 weeks on the road.
The most challenging part of the job I would say – the driving, with the roads being the way they are, they’re extremely busy and then the other road users. So really the role is not just looking at at driving skills it’s about having amazing passenger skills to communicate with people from different backgrounds with different needs to listen to their problems and provide a bit of social interaction with them they may not have.