A TAXI service providing a lifeline for disabled and frail people will end this week.

Over the course of almost three years, DAD’s Taxi has provided transport to thousands of wheelchair users and others with disabilities via an accessible vehicle.

In the last 12 months alone, drivers have escorted passengers from around Darlington on more than 4,000 journeys.

However, financial pressures and a shortage of drivers means that the service will cease operation this Wednesday, October 31.

DAD’s Taxi was launched by the Darlington Association on Disability charity in response to difficulties faced during travelling by those with mobility problems.

The service began in November 2016 following research conducted to find a vehicle that would adequately meet a range of needs.

Accessible for all, it allows wheelchairs to be wheeled straight into the taxi and has been operated by drivers who have been trained with an emphasis on treating customers with dignity and respect.

A statement issued by DAD said the decision to cancel the service was due to circumstances beyond their control and was “solely due to financial circumstances which have made it impossible for DAD to continue with this valuable service.”

Addressing clients and thanking them for their support, it continued: “We know that you will be disappointed by this.

“DAD listens to people who use our services and we know that many people have told us of the difference that our taxi and drivers have made to their lives.

“We would like to reassure you that we did not make this decision lightly and we will let you know of any changes that may occur in future.”

Chief executive Lauren Robinson said difficulty in recruiting drivers coupled with stiff competition from other taxi firms contributed to the decision to close DAD’s Taxi.

She said a number of other firms around Darlington had purchased similar accessible vehicles in recent years and that she hoped they would help to fill the gap left behind by the cancellation of the charity’s service.

Ms Robinson said: “It is a very disappointing decision to have to make, everybody involved in the organisation is really sad to see this close.

“We’ve managed to provide a really good quality, accessible taxi service for almost three years and through it, supported disabled people in the town. Our drivers have provided great customer service and have really gone above and beyond but it’s been very difficult to recruit – that, coupled with the economic position, has really conspired against us.”