Fears for 40 staff if Ring and Ride journeys are reduced

Up to 40 jobs could be axed if journeys are slashed from the region's Ring and Ride service in a bid to save costs, transport chiefs have revealed today.

Up to 40 jobs could be axed if journeys are slashed from the region's Ring and Ride service in a bid to save costs, transport chiefs have revealed today.

West Midlands Special Needs Transport (WMSNT) said introducing travel charges or cutting the number of trips is "unavoidable" despite the charity pledging £1.5 million of their own reserves to keep it afloat.

Ring and Ride has been hit with a £930,000 shortfall following a reduction in funding from the West Midlands' seven councils. But charity bosses insist it will not be scrapped completely.

Introducing a 60p a single trip charge has been proposed or the other option of stopping up to eight per cent of trips across the region.

A total of 135 vehicles a day operate in the West Midlands as the service runs from 8am until 11pm seven days a week.

It emerged last week a ballot completed by around half of the 30,000 usual users of Ring and Ride showed 90 per cent are in favour of a paying a charge rather than fewer buses.

However, the decision is in the hands of Centro's Integrated Transport Authority when it meets on Monday.

Chief executive of WMSNT Peter Maggs said around 40 of its 450 staff would face the axe if journeys are cut with workers already warned.

He insisted whatever the outcome there were no plans to stop the service.

"We have got some people who depend on us, otherwise they would just be isolated in their homes and not able to go shopping, go the doctors or go to see friends," he said.

"It is a service which is vital to them to get them out of the house."

He added: "We don't want to reduce the service and don't want to charge a fee either but we are in a difficult position. There was 90 per cent saying don't cut the journeys so that demonstrates to us the need of keeping it running."

There are 16 buses which operate from the Walsall depot based in Bloxwich. District manager Mick Mew said: "Everybody I have spoken to is more than willing to contribute if it keeps the service going as it is very popular in Walsall."