Transport for London

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. 

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