25 Years of Routecall 1993 - 2018

You see them here, you see them there, you see those Routecall buses every where!

Members of the Routecall Team with Bus RC002
Members of the Routecall Team with Bus RC002

2018 marks the 25th year of RouteCall, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council's transport service for mobility handicap needs residents. Epsom & Ewell's Community Service's Autumn 2017 update contains the following news:
"News! We have now replaced our Transport from Home fleet with brand new vehicles. This service exists for those who are not as mobile as they once were, cannot drive and who no longer feel they can manage regular public transport. Our new vehicles offer a range of features providing a safe and comfortable journey. Our drivers are fully trained and are able to provide assistance to passengers as required."
Looking back over the years earlier news sheets give a history of this valuable service.
"The Council launched 'RouteCall' Dial-a-Ride and Dial-a-Bus services on 1st April 1993 for residents with mobility handicaps, either through frailty, age or lack of access to alternative transport. In the near future, the Dial-a-Bus scheme will be linked with a Shopmobility scheme to give severely disabled residents more independence. Dial-a-Ride will enable people with mobility handicaps to book a return ride on a mini-bus anywhere in the Borough from their home. Dial-a-Bus books people a seat on a special bus running to Epsom town centre and back at a given time from the bus stop nearest their home"
Member of the Routecall Team Assisting a Passenger
Member of the Routecall Team Assisting a Passenger

RouteCall's buses soon became well known on the roads of Epsom and Ewell and also further afield. Trips and visits for elderly and disabled people were introduced and examples are shown in the 2003 Autumn Excursions booklet:-
  • The Jolly Farmers Dorking for lunch and visit to Squires garden centre.
  • Visit to Bognor Regis that has won awards for cleanliness.
  • Thames Sightseeing/Greenwich and where you could go on a sightseeing boat to Greenwich.
  • Another trip, always popular, is Xmas lights and supper.
People that want to use this community transport join the special membership and this community transport is wheelchair accessible and the wheelchairs are clamped to the floor of a Vehicle and seat belts are used. The vehicles have tail lifts fitted for ease of boarding and alighting. The helpful drivers will always help elderly or infirm passengers and help loading and unloading bags. There are regular shopping trips to Epsom town centre and to other locations.

Passengers on Board
Passengers on Board

Looking back at news cuttings over the years. RouteCall membership reached 2300 in 1995 - and by 2007/08 RouteCall had provided transport for over 30,000 passengers that year. In addition to this every day work over 160 excursions had taken place. Trips started from the Cedars, in Church Street, Epsom, but pick-ups from home available for infirm residents. A carer/escort accompanying RouteCall member if required.

The buses:- RouteCall has been served by various types of buses over the years. On 1st April 1995 RouteCall was celebrating two years on the road: A local newspaper cutting shows one of the Omni buses that used to be in the fleet and mentions the second birthday.

An old Style LDV RouteCall Bus
An old Style LDV RouteCall Bus
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In "Vantage" Winter 1995 there is an article about RouteCall and pointing out that a RouteCall gift voucher would make an excellent Christmas gift: This article shows one of the VW buses that used to be in the fleet. "RouteCall is just the ticket:"

"Epsom Guardian" 09.11.95 printed an article showing one of the brand new Mercedes buses being handed over to the Council. The two 15 seater Mercedes 310s replaced the Omni buses in the RouteCall fleet, the headlines "Riding in style on brand new Mercedes bus": Local magazine "Borough Insight October 2000 shows one of the Mercedes buses and states "You may have seen one of the eight RouteCall vehicles around the Borough's roads".

An earlier - 1996 - photo shows the two Omni buses parked with two VW buses. The article shows a RouteCall estate car in white like the buses, the estate was also used to help with Meals on Wheels duties.

The RouteCall newsletter No.21 covering Christmas 1995 states
"The new Mercedes are part of the fleet and we do hope that you are as pleased with them as we are.

More good news: we are taking possession of a new VW Caravelle which seats seven passengers and it will be integrated into the Dial-a-Ride service".
Later on some very distinctive buses were delivered. They were Citroens with bodywork by Rohill of Andover. They were six-wheel buses - Tri-axle buses. I remember seeing them a lot in our Borough, on every day work, and on special work such as the runs to and from the popular "Herald of Spring show at Bourne Hall, Ewell. It's interesting to note that the bodybuilders Rohill also produced a range of welfare buses, and could produce a mobile library for council - as their brochure states "Making All Transport Truly Accessible". By 2003 there were 9 Citroen buses in the RouteCall fleet plus a spare bus which was an LDV. The next RouteCall buses to be delivered was a similar number of buses of normal 4-wheel, twin-axle, type, and these buses were Renaults. Again there was a spare bus as well and this was an Iveco.

Citroen Fleet Number RC008
Citroen Fleet Number RC008

As mentioned above, and in "Borough Insight" Summer 2017, today in 2018 RouteCall - now known as Transport from Home - has a fleet of brand new buses, so these brief notes try to pay a tribute to a quarter of a century of service to residents of Epsom & Ewell. Meals on Wheels are now known as Meals at Home. Some of the other services that the Community and Wellbeing Team at Epsom & Ewell can provide to residents are:-
  • Community Alarm,
  • Priority Services Register, and
  • a free Handyman Service for residents aged 65 plus or are disabled.
Community and Wellbeing Services
Community and Wellbeing Services

Peter Lemon, 2018
With thanks to Jeanne Wing for transcribing this article.