Three Rivers District Council may pull out of an 'dial-a-ride' service for older and disabled people and bringing in its own ‘shopper’ transport service.

The council currently subsidises one of two county council-operated ‘dial-a-ride’ buses that provide a door-to-door service for elderly and disabled passengers.

But figures show that just 42 per cent of passengers on the subsidised service actually live in the Three Rivers district.

More of its passengers – 45 per cent – live in neighbouring Watford. And 10 per cent live in Hertsmere – which does not subsidise ‘dial-a-ride’ at all.

So now Three Rivers has drawn up alternative plans for its own five-day scheduled ‘shopper’ service – in place of one of the ‘dial-a-ride’ services.

The new service would pick up elderly and disabled passengers from homes in a particular area of the district each day and take them to and from a specified shopping centre, according to a published schedule.

It is believed the new subsidised service – which would cost a flat fee of £3 each way – would increase capacity and be a better use of council funds.

On Tuesday (January 7) the proposals were backed, in principle, by members of the council’s infrastructure, housing and economic development committee – giving the green light to further development of the plans.

“Three Rivers District Council is exploring options to improve the way we provide accessible transport services to people who are older or disabled,” said a council spokesperson following the meeting.

“While this service is provided by Hertfordshire County Council, the district council has contributed funding to a second ‘dial-a-ride’ vehicle for many years, which runs in addition to the vehicle provided by the county council.

“In line with other districts the council has considered whether this would be more effectively allocated to provide alternatives."

Three Rivers has subsidised the county council ‘dial-a-ride’ service since 2005 and pays around £34,000 a year towards it.

But according to the report to the committee, Three Rivers has “little real control over the details of the contract with Hertfordshire County Council”.

The report says some other councils already operate alternative arrangements.

In St Albans the council provides taxi vouchers, Hertsmere provides a shopper bus and Welwyn Hatfield has community transport.

The moves come as Hertfordshire County Council is consulting on plans to increase the fares of its ‘dial-a-ride’ services.

Currently the cost to passengers is £1.90 for the first mile and 45 pence for each subsequent mile.

But the county council plans to increase that to £2.10 for the first mile and 50 pence for each mile further. That would mean a 10-mile trip would increase from £5.95 to £6.60.