A new company has been set up by Lincolnshire County Council to ensure that some of the most vital passenger transport services in the county can continue
TransportConnect Ltd has been set up to replace Essential Fleet Services in providing services for a range of specialist applications in Lincolnshire.
Retendering exercises aimed at developing the specialist transport market failed to provide solutions, causing the withdrawal of Essential Fleet Services and the implementation of a new company.
Having previously operated over £3.5m worth of Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) contracts involved with Special Educational Needs (SEN), Adult Care and CallConnect services, Essential Fleet Services announced its intention to withdraw from the passenger transport market in January this year.
LCC has decided to develop its own transport company, owned and operated by the council. TransportConnect Ltd will operate the 20 displaced Essential Fleet Services contracts – but will also provide the capacity to take on other contracts that the commercial market fails to deliver cost-effective options for.
The new company will have an initial focus on the south of the county, where the need is most apparent.
Of the 20 contracts that are to be handed over, 11 are SEN transport – including school routes in the Boston and Grantham areas. There are two Social Care Transport services, running in Pinchbeck and Deeping St James, and 11 CallConnect services, that operate in areas including Bourne, Spalding, Grantham and Stamford.
LCC intend to transfer relevant Essential Fleet Services staff to the new company under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE). This is to ensure a smooth transition with no disruption for service users.
Cllr Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “We realise these services are vital to those who use them, so it is important to find affordable solutions which will help us to maintain them.”
“This new approach will provide additional capacity into what was already a very limited market prior to the withdrawal of Essential. The Council have found it increasingly difficult to get contractors to cover contracts particularly those requiring wheelchair accessible vehicles and transport crews trained to convey passengers with additional needs.”
TransportConnect Ltd is expected to begin operating the displaced services later this year, with Essential continuing to provide them in the meantime.