A WOMAN with severe learning difficulties can no longer attend her regular day centre — because her journey is 0.2 miles too long for her to be taken by Ring and Ride.
The Bolton News revealed Greater Manchester’s Accessible Transport Ltd’s Ring and Ride minibus service, for people who struggle to use public transport, has been cut back and will only accommodate journeys of six miles or less.
Karen Marshall suffers with severe learning disabilities and cannot use public transport.
Before the changes, the 37-year-old was using the Ring and Ride minibus to take her from her home in Blackhorse Avenue, Blackrod, to the Jubilee Day Centre in Darley Street, Farnworth, six times a month, to join in with activities with other people who have similar challenges to her.
Her journey to the centre was 6.2 miles in total, meaning the minibus will no longer pick her up as it would contravene the new six mile limit.
Her parents, Susan and Tommy Marshall, who look after Karen at their home in Blackrod, said the change has been a real blow as the centre was “a lifeline” for them and their daughter.
Mrs Marshall said: “Karen has been going to the centre for three or four years and she does a lot of different things down there including arts and crafts and joining in with a disco with her friends — she has loved every minute of it.
“The main thing is it has given her a lot of independence, which she doesn’t get a lot of because of her learning difficulties.
She said it has also offered the couple periods of respite.
Mrs Marshall added: “Karen can get very stressed and struggle with things, looking after her can be hard work sometimes so the times she has been able to go to the centre have allowed us a bit of a rest.”
Her parents have been unable to take her because her father has to work on the farm.
Mrs Marshall said: “We are getting on and we would have liked to know that if anything were to happen to us, she would still be picked up to go to the Jubilee Centre.”
Karen added: “I loved going to the Jubilee Centre, I made lots of friends there and got to listen to One Direction and Olly Murs, it was a lot of fun.”
Horwich and Blackrod ward councillor Ann Cunliffe has criticised the new policy.
She added: “They need to review this, people like Karen need to be prioritised as this decision has made her and her parents life really difficult.”
Bernard Rowen, managing director of Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Limited, said: “Like all publicly funded services, Ring and Ride is under budgetary pressure.
“We’ve looked very closely at where we can make savings that still allow us to run the vast majority of existing journeys. I appreciate that unfortunately some passengers will be affected by this decision and these will be included in a six month review of the service.”