North West Kent Volunteer Transport Service
Particularly for those 60+ regularly needing to get to Dartford (inc. Darent Valley) without a car.
This post is to let more residents know about the Volunteer Transport Service. This is a service which quite a number of residents have found useful, particularly since Arriva's withdrawal of the 423 bus service to Dartford*.
This service, run by the North West Kent Volunteer service, sees local volunteers take residents, over 60, to and from nearby locations of their choosing (for example Darent Valley Hospital).
The cost of this is more than a regular bus fare, but substantially less than a commercial taxi. Users book this service three or four days in advance (but it might be a good idea to book earlier if you are using the service for the first time). It is a door to door service. The phone number for the service is 01322 294 600.
The service is also always looking for new Volunteers.
What you pay
You pay a millage fee directly to the driver (about 30-40p per mile, based on the millage the driver drives) as well as a small admin fee of a few pounds on top of this to cover the administration of the service. There is also an (annual) £20 registration fee.
What about people under 60 with severe health needs?
The Volunteer Transport service is for people over 60. People of any age, with severe health conditions, may wish to check if they are eligible either for the Kent Karrier Service (which, like the Volunteer transport service, is not merely for hospital transport) or for the NHS dedicated hospital transport service.
*Note on buses
The loss of the weekday Bus service to Dartford (423) has been sorely felt locally, especially for residents who need to attend regular medical appointments at Darent Valley hospital. To be fair to KCC, this was never a subsidised service, and the decision to remove the service is a purely commercial one made by Arriva. Three is also no money to chase the withdrawal of a commercial service with a subsidy. We are pleased that Arriva have decided to maintain the commercially provided weekday service to Gravesend.
All of your District councillors have emphasised the importance of the Dartford service (especially for hospital patients) in our representations to the County Council, and we also recognise the work of KCC in mitigating the issue for school pupils by providing busses which work for them (and, incidentally, for a small number of people who might wish to use this service for a day out in Dartford - on a weekday, in term time).
However, as Councillors on the District Council, we also need to focus on what can be done to mitigate, as far as possible, the inevitable problems caused for those who used to rely on the Dartford Bus. Hence the above post.