West Midlands Special Needs Transport (Accessible Transport Services), which has been awarded several new route contracts starting from October 25, is rebranding its operation as ‘igo’.
Early recipient of the new identity is an Optare Solo SR used on new route 145 between Droitwich and Longbridge via Bromsgrove. Formerly operated on a subsidy from Worcestershire County Council by Diamond Bus, West Midlands Special Needs Transport (WMSNT) won this and service 141 on retender, combining the two to provide a clock face off peak hourly headway with three vehicles that have increased service provision by 25%.
Also carrying the new brand is WMSNT’s first double-decker, a Plaxton President-bodied Dennis Trident that’s on hire from Dawson Rentals and is being used on a registered bus service from the Bordesley Green area to the International School at Kingshurst. Fitted with 71 belted seats, it will also be used during the school term for swimming baths runs and day trips.
Operations Manager, Des Rogers explained that West Midlands Special Needs Transport (Accessible Transport Services) is a community bus operation that aims to support communities that find it difficult to access public transport. Its popular Ring and Ride service is the fourth largest in the world. In association with Worcestershire County Council, resources from the 145 service will be used to part fund new Dial a Ride services in the county, the first starting in Wythall next month.
As Des has repeatedly stated, WMSNT has no wish to operate in competition with commercial bus routes. It sees enough opportunity to achieve its goal without trying to “cream off” therefore making local services worse rather than better.
The WMSNT Group was created last year following a restructure. WMSNT (Holdings) Ltd is the group holding company and owns all property assets. Ring and Ride West Midlands Ltd operates the Ring and Ride service for Centro while West Midlands Special Needs Transport (Accessible Transport Services) Ltd operates local authority contracts, health sector contracts and a number of Centro subsidised bus services.
West Midlands Special Needs Transport (Trading) Ltd operates on a commercial basis tendering for contracts that fall outside of the charitable aims of WMSNT Group. It donates any profits to the other members of the group. This is the only company that isn’t charitable limited by guarantee. The group’s main objective is: “The promotion of any charitable purpose for the benefit of the community and in particular the advancement of education and the relief of poverty, sickness, old age and distress through the provision of transport advice and assistance.”