A NEW transport service for patients and visitors needing to access the Alexandra and Worcester Royal hospitals will start early in September.

The new Community Transport (CT) service has been confirmed on the same day the free hospital hopper shuttle bus came to an end (Friday, August 11).

The service will enable passengers to get to appointments and to visit both locations using CT in the form of volunteer-driven cars and MPVs.

However, journeys will need to be pre-booked and a fare will be payable, as yet unknown, although expected to be affordable and fair.

MP Rachel Maclean, who campaigned for the initial trial hopper bus service to continue before it was axed, has welcomed the new “much better” service.

She said: “I have been campaigning for a continuation of the existing service or replacement with an alternative since before the election.

“This is, I believe, is a much better and more flexible option for users in Redditch where access to car usage is low compared to the rest of Worcestershire, although better than the national average.

“It offers a door-to-door pre-bookable service and I eagerly anticipate full details.

“I am delighted to be able to confirm this news and that the authorities have listened to the concerns of patients and responded accordingly to their needs.”

The news of a paid-for service follows a poll on the Advertiser website asking readers if they would pay a to use a service between the Redditch and Worcester hospitals.

69 per cent of people said they would be happy to pay a small fee.

28 per cent of people said they would not be happy to pay a small fee and that it should be free, while just three per cent said they weren't sure if they would pay or not.

The CT service aims to provide journeys for those unable to travel by other means and who live in Redditch, Worcester and the rural areas in between to the two sites.

It has come about as a result of joint working from health service providers, Worcestershire County Council and the not-for-profit transport sector.

Cllr Alan Amos, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Highways, said: "I am very well aware how important it is for people to be able to get to these hospitals quickly and safely and at minimum cost so I am delighted that the County Council's pilot scheme can assist with such a service."

Using volunteer-driven cars and MPVs, the CT pilot scheme is delivered by the county's existing Community Transport operators and supported by the Department for Transport's Total Transport Fund, Worcestershire County Council and health services.