DISABLED and elderly bus passengers in Bolton are expected to be hit by changes to the ‘Ring and Ride’ accessible transport service.

The minibus service of Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM), open to anyone who has problems using public transport, will stop the dedicated cross boundary service and instead only offer travel of up to six miles.

However distances of more than six miles to the nearest hospital, town centre or accessible public transport facility will still be considered.

Cllr David Chadwick, Bolton’s representative on TfGM, said for the year 2012 to 2013 the organisation spent £5.4 million on the service, which was used for 882,000 journeys across Greater Manchester.

He stressed TfGM was looking to achieve a ‘balance’ between need and cost.

Cllr Chadwick added: “The vast majority of people who use the service only travel three miles or less, but there may be some people who are affected.

“Lancashire County Council got rid of their Ring and Ride service, and we won’t do that.”

Bernard Rowen, managing director of Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Limited, which operates Ring and Ride said despite the changes they are still committed to improving the service.

He added: “Now that we’ve upgraded our booking systems we have been able to merge our cross boundary service with the main service, which means passengers will be able to travel for up to six miles into neighbouring districts during much longer operating hours.”

All trips can be booked through one call centre phone number between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, from up to seven days in advance to one hour before.

Information about Ring and Ride services is available at www.tfgm.com/ringandride or by calling 0845 688 4933.