February 8, 2012
Hopes raised by First Minister
Free bus travel for the elderly has been criticised as an extravagance in these times of austerity. But if you live in rural Scotland and don’t drive, it’s a lifeline. But that’s the case only where there is a functioning bus service and in many parts of the country, where profit margins are thin, routes are being slashed. So why not open up the concessionary scheme to the community transport providers? On a recent visit to a local transport project in Buchan, the First Minister gave real cause for optimism
Local Community Transport Charity Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus (DACB) was proud to host ‘An Audience with Alex Salmond MSP’ on Monday, January 23.
The charity decided on the title of ‘An Audience with Alex Salmond MSP’ for their New Bus fundraising event as it gave the scope to invite a variety of people from the community to engage directly with their local MSP and Scotland’s First Minister.
Chairman, Gordon Reid, commented: “We felt that this was a great opportunity to have the First Minister in Maud, speaking to our local community as well as to other voluntary groups, so we realised that we should do our best to ensure that we made it as open as possible.”
Mr Reid explained that the evening also gave DACB the chance to update people on the developments within Community Transport both nationally and locally, as well as with the charity’s associated Social Enterprise:
“DACB has come so far over the last few years and we’ve no plans to stop yet; there is still a lot to do to enable everyone in our community to live and travel as independently as we would all expect to.
“It seemed to be sensible to take the chance to update people who perhaps don’t hear about the range of work we do on an everyday basis.
“And at the same time highlight the amazing work that Community Transport does in Scotland as a whole”.
John MacDonald of the Community Transport Association asked Mr Salmond whether the Government could consider extending the Scotland-wide bus concessionary fare scheme to the types of services offered by Buchan Dial a Community Bus . Though many users have the concession they cannot use it on most community transport services. Mr Salmond said that there was a good case for looking again at the scheme and that this would be considered by the Government.
Mr Salmond added: “I was delighted to attend this event to help highlight the valuable service Dial-a-Community Bus provides to North East communities.
“Dial-a-Community Bus offers Buchan residents and groups a variety of support services and is key in the provision of community transport across Aberdeenshire.
“I’d like to thank the staff and the volunteers who are the real driving force behind the charity, for their continued hard work and commitment.”