Bus service struggling after cruel hit and run

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A vital community bus service for the elderly and disabled has been “left reeling” following a cruel hit and run collision on the outskirts of Bellaghy.

An Out and About driver was injured and one of its mini buses was badly damaged in the crash last week.

Ashley Keane, the manager of the Out and About office in Magherafelt, said her team have been busy trying to keep the service in operation.

“Whilst the driver and the passenger onboard did not sustain life threatening injuries, both have been hurt in the incident and it will take time for those injuries to heal,” she said.

Ms Keane said two very valuable assets had been removed from the local community, the driver and the minibus.

“This will have a devastating impact on the organisation and all those who depend heavily on the vital transport services Out and About provide,” she continued.

Ms Keane explained the insurance company was still assessing the damage to the minibus but initial inspection suggests it could be written off. It is estimated that it would take approximately £60,000 to replace the vehicle.

“Community Transport services are already under resourced and stretched to the limit after a five per cent reduction in core funding from the Department for Infrastructure for 2019/20,” she went on.

“The costs associated with this incident will undoubtedly impact on our ability to meet all the demands of our service users.”

Ms Keane said staff and volunteers are “working diligently” to try and keep their members out and about.

“Obviously with one less highly skilled driver and specialised vehicle off the road it will bring challenges as we go forward,” she added.

Magherafelt PSNI are appealing for eye-witnesses to the collision which involved a yellow car on the Oldtown Road, Bellaghy, to get in to touch with them.

They said in a post on their Facebook page: “The actions of this driver and his pathetic attempt to avoid taking responsibility for them has destroyed the Out & About Community Transport bus, caused injuries and now removed a valuable asset from the community.

“We have good eye witness accounts in relation to who was involved. Did you also see this happen? Where you on the road around this time and see the driver leave the scene?”