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25 Feb 2021
Local bus operator Stagecoach has stepped in to provide a free shuttle bus service for people visiting Thanet's newly opened mass vaccination centre.
Anyone with a COVID vaccine appointment can board the special minibus service that links Westwood Cross bus hub with the new vaccination site at the former Saga building off Haine Road.
The new centre is playing a key role in the COVID-19 vaccine programme by offering residents in east Kent a convenient local site to receive their vaccine.
The vaccination centre is now open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.
As part of their efforts to support the local community during the pandemic, Stagecoach will be operating the special shuttle service up to every 15 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week. The first bus from Westwood Cross bus hub is at 8am, with buses running to and from the centre up to 7.45pm. The shuttle bus offers a convenient link up with other bus services from all around Thanet that call in at the Westwood Cross hub.
Joel Mitchell, managing director for Stagecoach South East, said: “When Craig Mackinlay rang me to ask if there was any way we could help with taking people to the front door of the vaccination centre, I was sure we could. Within an hour our local team had sourced a bus from a neighbouring depot and we had drivers volunteering to start delivering the service."
“Since the start of the pandemic, colleagues at Stagecoach have been adapting rapidly to the challenges and changes that it brought about. The vaccination endeavour is one of the greatest triumphs of the modern age and everyone at Stagecoach locally is proud to play a part in the effort. Our local teams have worked really hard to meet passenger demand and adapted services to support key workers and others in the local community during these difficult times.
"We hope local people will benefit from this free service when it comes to making their essential journeys to the vaccination centre.”
South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay said, “The new vaccination centre at the old SAGA site is a fantastic facility to serve the whole of East Kent. At the opening on Monday (22nd), senior clinicians and officials from the NHS wondered if it might be possible to get bus routings changed to serve the centre. Following my call to Stagecoach, they stepped up and an even better solution was immediately found with a dedicated shuttle bus service suggested. My thanks go to Joel Mitchell, the Managing director and his team for their rapid action to serve our community.”
The Stagecoach vaccination shuttle bus with driver Dave Hill (left) and local Operations Manager Danny Millis (right).