Almost 10,000 free trips for NHS staff

An initiative to transport NHS staff to Walsall Manor Hospital free of charge has seen almost 10,000 trips completed since it began.

WMCA Ring and Ride buses used to free NHS staff to hospital to work during the pandemic. PIC: WMCA
WMCA Ring and Ride buses used to free NHS staff to hospital to work during the pandemic. PIC: WMCA

West Midlands Ring and Ride shuttle buses were re-purposed to carry doctors, nurses, cleaners and porters to and from the hospital from Wednesbury Parkway Metro Stop since April.

Up to the end of January, a total of 9,472 journeys were completed in Walsall out of more than 30,000 made in the region.

When the first lockdown began, bus and rail services were severely diminished and Midlands Metro continued to operate.

With Ring and Ride demand falling due to elderly and vulnerable people isolating, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) took the decision to use the minibuses for connections between the hospital and stop.

Services were also run for staff at New Cross in Wolverhampton where 10,313 journeys have been made, Russell’s Hall in Brierley Hill where 7,641 journeys have been made and Good Hope in Sutton Coldfield which has seen 7,005 trips.

A maximum of two staff are carried on each bus trip to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have all marvelled at the dedication and wonderful work of our NHS heroes who have put themselves at risk to keep us safe.

“This is one small way the Combined Authority has been able to help some of those staff by making their journeys to work a little easier and I am delighted that so many staff looking after people at Manor Hospital have made good use of it.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Our NHS staff are putting their lives on the line each and every day to fight on the front-line against this virus to keep us safe, and so I am pleased we were able to offer this small gesture through Ring and Ride to support those who needed help getting into work.

“To date staff have used our minibuses more than 30,000 times across the West Midlands, proving how popular and vital this shuttle bus service has been for staff on the front-line.

“I am delighted we have been able to help in this way, and on behalf of everyone at TfWM and the West Midlands Combined Authority I want to say a massive thank you to our incredible NHS staff who are working around the clock in these unprecedented circumstances.”

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