A TECHNOLOGY business says its new minibus service, launched alongside the NHS and other partners, is one with "a real purpose and social impact".

DriverNet has started the service, along with the health service and local businesses, providing shuttles to shops, high streets, activities, events and vaccination centres in the town.

The launch aims to improve health outcomes, tackle mental health issues, and help people participate in leisure and retail activities, find jobs or get to work.

The first minibus services have started taking residents to vaccination centres, Morrisons and local markets, with more services also set to go live in the near future.


The service has been launched

The service has been launched


DriverNet’s mobile app helps coordinate transport operations and is used by St Helens council, delivery companies and bus and coach operators.

DriverNet CEO Ant Chisnall, from Eccleston, said: "It’s a new minibus service with a real purpose and social impact, collecting people from their door and taking them in groups to the same places at the same time. It keeps costs low for the passenger, and gives them a door to door service to a long list of popular destinations.

"The NHS in St Helens paying for minibuses to help people struggling to get to vaccination centres is a huge step for other trusts to follow. If we want to build back better after the pandemic, then we need better, more joined up transport services to improve opportunities to access the NHS, find work, help people to be socially and physically active and is accessible to disadvantaged people.

"The response has been overwhelming with businesses, councils, charities, St Helens and Halton Voluntary Community Action , faith groups, Merseytravel, Saints and the NHS all wanting to get involved."


The service has been launched

The service has been launched


The project was part funded by the European Space Agency and Merseytravel, with Rainford-born entrepreneur Matt Newing increasing his investment in DriverNet to back the project first.

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"Rides will be able to be booked and paid for online, over the phone or with cash, and you can book for yourself or on behalf of friends, family or groups of people in your care. Journeys can be tracked on a map for peace of mind," added Mr Chisnall, 42.

"The social side offers shopping and coffee shuttles or early bird flyers to pubs and restaurants, allow people make new friends, complete a weekly chore and have meal and drink in the process.

"Many passengers are saying taxi’s are not always affordable to them, or they feel like burden asking people for a lift so they simply remain at home indoors. So in effect better, green travel can give people their freedom back, which supports the NHS long term plan to keep people independent for longer.

"The council's Holiday ( HAF) Activities fund is putting on daily activities over summer in Sutton, and is free for children who have paid school dinners during holidays. Should we as a town be putting on minibuses shuttles to help disadvantaged children get there, as opposed to missing the opportunity? This happens time and again in towns across the country, where people can’t attend free events paid for by the tax payer because of transport barriers."


The service has been launched

The service has been launched


The new services is also going to provide shuttles to activities , hospitals, out of town business, retail, industrial and distribution parks, as well as courses, job centres and transport links.

"Many people can’t afford transport to get to work or an interview or get to NHS appointments or vaccination centres, which deepens inequalities and blocks opportunities too. It’s time to get transport working better for the tax payer.

"The NHS funded shuttles can help people go for their first jabs now and perhaps booster and flu jabs in autumn, and the regular shuttles will hopefully have a positive effect on peoples lives, too," he added.

A full launch of DriverNet’s online Local transport hub is set for later this summer.

  • Businesses and passengers wanting to find out more about, get involved in the launch or book a seat to a destination can get in touch with DriverNet on 01744 623317 or go to driver-net.com/blog . Patients wanting to get to Saints, or local pharmacies for a vaccination can call 01744 676 789 to book transport, with the NHS also providing free bus passes also.