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September 25, 2013

Community transport to expand – but how?

There’s never been more support (in principle) for Scotland’s community transport sector. Everyone seems to agree that current levels of provision must grow and most importantly that local providers need to be placed on more secure financial footing. Trouble is, no one can agree how to do it. Some think Govt should fold all community providers into the concessionary travel scheme. Others believe that community transport must be a bottom up, locally resourced response to need. That works fine – but only in certain parts of the country. 


Vivienne Nicoll Evening Times 20/8/13

Last year, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport decided to start renewing the fleet of buses it leases to contractors providing local bus services.

Members of SPT decided that, where practical, they should be handed over to community transport groups.

The buses will replace ageing vehicles or allow operators to provide additional services.

A total of 14 buses will be handed over to organisations in Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, East and West Dunbartonshire, East, North and South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

Southwest Community Transport in Nitshill, which was a finalist in last year’s Evening Times’ Community Champions, is one of the organisations that will benefit from the decision.

It provides transport for a wide variety of groups, including sheltered housing organisations and youth clubs.

A spokeswoman said: “This is wonderful news, It will be very useful and a welcome addition to the buses we have.”

A report to SPT members said: “The vehicles will offer the community transport sector the opportunity to obtain low-floor accessible vehicles that are currently unaffordable to the majority of the sector.”

At present, most community buses have a step or a rear tail-lift to allow access for wheelchair users.

About £5000 will be available for each vehicle to ensure it is property serviced and maintained. Organisations will also be able to access a £25,000 fund for professional engineering support.

The report states: “To ensure the safeguarding of SPT’s investment in these vehicles and provide assistance to the operators to maintain vehicles that are more technically complex than most are presently accustomed to, it will be necessary to provide some funding to secure professional mechanical services and training.”

SPT chairman Jim Coleman said: “I am delighted SPT buses will be given a new lease of life in many communities but the donation will have a much bigger impact than that.

“These buses will be handed over only to those who can properly maintain them to a safe standard and SPT has promised to make sure they are equipped to do so.”