Ring and Ride services will continue while operator is in administration
Ring and Ride services will continue running across the Black Country while its operator is in administration after funding was secured.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has provided the money to ensure journeys can continue for the thousands of people who rely on Ring and Ride, during an uncertain time for its operator the Accessible Transport Group (ATG).
The future of Ring and Ride services were thrown into doubt when it was announced ATG had collapsed into administration.
The firm, which employs more than 900 staff across its various charities, also runs school transport for students with special needs in Wolverhampton and Sandwell and operates subsidised local bus routes across the West Midlands.
TfWM, which is the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said it was working with ATG to try and ensure Ring and Ride has a long-term future, adding that it would be writing to more than 15,000 users.
Ring and Ride offers door-to-door transport and takes many immobile, elderly or vulnerable people to day centres, supermarkets and hospitals.
A spokesman for TfWM said: "We have made funding available to the administrators to ensure the continuity of the Ring and Ride services during this period.
"Going forward we are working with the administrators to seek a sustainable long-term future for the service.
“TfWM is also writing today to the 15,557 registered users of Ring and Ride to give reassurance that the services should be booked in the same way and will continue to operate as normal.
“We are grateful to the dedicated staff at Ring and Ride who are continuing to deliver the services to the people who depend upon them.”
Both Wolverhampton and Sandwell councils have said they are working with administrators Duff & Phelps to ensure schools transport continues to run as normal.
What is the Accessible Transport Group?
ATG is a registered charity providing accessible transport for people with a variety of needs across the West Midlands via its fleet of 600 vehicles.
Its main services are the door-to-door Ring and Ride minibus transport, school transport for special needs students on behalf of local authorities and running subsidised local bus routes.
It has two subsidiaries, which are also registered charities - Ring and Ride and ATG Contract Services.
In turn its Contract Services arm has two further subsidiaries - igo, the company's local bus service brand, and ATG Education, which transports students with special needs to colleges and schools.
Ring and Ride
Set up in 1983, Ring and Ride is one of ATG's two main subsidiaries and runs a fleet of 120 accessible minibuses across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry.
It has depots in Pool Street in Wolverhampton and next to the Black Country New Road in Wednesbury and is relied upon by thousands of people in the Black Country who struggle to use public transport.
Anybody can use the service but it is targeted at people with disabilities or mobility issues and for people who are socially isolated.
It is commonly used to help elderly or disabled people get to doctor's appointments and to shopping trips.
Adult fares vary between £1.30 for registered users in daytime to £2.40 for non-registered users and registered users in the evening.
ATG Education runs door-to-door home to school transport under contracts for seven local authorities in the West Midlands, including Sandwell Council and Wolverhampton Council.
ATG Education is newer than Ring and Ride, having been set up in 1998, but now transports more than 2,800 children and adults with special needs to schools and colleges across the region.
Its transport fleet has 404 accessible vehicles and also operates routes for Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and Worcestershire County Council.
Set up in 2011, igo is ATG's newest brand and operates subsidised local bus routes across the Black Country and wider West Midlands area.
According to ATG, igo at one point operated 81 vehicles on 43 routes on behalf of Transport for West Midlands, Warwickshire County Council and Worcestershire County Council.
In 2015 its turnover was £4.5 million.
Following the news that ATG had entered administration, some of igo's routes were immediately taken over by other local providers.
Network West Midlands said there would be no change to any of igo's timetables or routes, but that the following services had changed operator:
- Service 57 – Wolverhampton – Bilston via Wednesfield - To be operated by Diamond Bus
- Service 80 – Moxley to Bilston via Lower Bradley - To be operated by Diamond Bus
- Service 326 – Bloxwich to Bilston via Willenhall - To be operated by Diamond Bus
- Service 530 - Wolverhampton - Rocket Pool - To be operated by Banga Bus
Routes in the Black Country which will continue to be run by igo include the number 19 Bloxwich to Walsall, the number 22 Wednesbury to Wolverhampton and the number 208 Merry Hill to Dudley.