Minibus Options – Travel Assistance

Minibus Options

Fred James is the Sales Director at Minibus Options – a CTA Corporate Supporter

Did you know that Minibus Options provide Travel Assistance for CTA Members who visit their showroom in Whaley Bridge? We’ll pay for either 2 standard return tickets on the train, or the cost of the fuel for one vehicle to make the journey. What’s more we also provide lunch, so the only thing you’ll need to do is book a day away from the office.

At our Whaley Bridge headquarters, we have an extensive showroom, with samples of everything from seating to wheelchair lifts which can be demonstrated to you, all this along side a production facility where over 50 vehicles may be viewed at various build stages. There’s nothing to beat seeing this equipment ‘in the metal’; and visitors get to appreciate the complete flexibility with which a new vehicle can be built.

Minibus Options has been trading for over 30 years, celebrating its anniversary in 2016, so staff have decades of experience and can offer you sound advice to ensure that you are aware of what it’s possible to achieve with a bespoke vehicle, and ensure that each vehicle meets regulations to the finest detail.

If you would like to take a trip to see us, or if you have any questions please contact  fred.james@minibusoptions.co.uk

Report Launch: The Future of Demand Responsive Transport

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Yesterday, the Community Transport Association (CTA) and Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) launched our report, The Future of Demand Responsive Transport

You can read the report in full here.

What’s in the report?

A more sophisticated approach to how we think about and organise travel, through a more demand responsive passenger transport network, will lead to positive benefits for people, places and the planet. It will reduce the number of unmade journeys which lower people’s work and life aspirations and can leave them isolated. It will address concerns about under-used capacity and our carbon footprint.

Within this report we highlight what we believe are the major breakthroughs that will lead to demand-responsive transport (DRT) solutions being much higher in the passenger transport mix, and we consider how far that can go in terms of being inclusive and accessible to all.

Why is CTA involved in this research?

Community transport helps to address quality, availability and affordability of transport options for people that can’t drive and don’t have access to a conventional bus service, especially in rural areas.

The creation of a demand responsive community transport service can often be as a result of the withdrawal of a commercial or subsidised service. In rural areas DRT is often seen as the only viable alternative when bus services are withdrawn, so it’s not so much a choice. Local authorities will often signpost to community transport and other DRT type services when asked to advise people who have lost commercial or subsidised bus services, which may sometimes be taken from the same pot that others subsidised services would have been funded from.

What’s next?

The report makes recommendations for transport providers, transport commissioners, travel planners, and local authorities.  If you work in this field, we want to hear from you, and find ways to work together to implement some of the recommendations.

If anything strikes a chord with what you are trying to achieve through your role and activities then please get in touch.

Email: hello@ctauk.org

Report Launch: Innovations in Health Transport

Bill Freeman, Chief Executive, Community Transport Association

Ed Potter, Managing Director, Arriva Specialist Mobility

Today, the Community Transport Association (CTA) and Arriva Transport Solutions (ATSL) are launching our joint report, Innovations in Health Transport.

You can read the report in full  here.

What’s in the report?

Community transport plays a key role in getting people to and from medical appointments.  Across every city, town, and village, CTA’s members enable people to access healthcare services safely and comfortably.

Working alongside ATSL, CTA has looked at the provision of non-emergency patient transport (NEPT) and considered how innovations in NEPT could improve the quality and reliability of services.  In writing this report we interviewed a number of private, public, and third sector partners, who all work within this arena.

Within this report we highlight the actions needed by commissioners, transport providers, and our communities, to improve patient transport provision.  This report complements the report launched in March 2017 with Urban Transport Group, Total Transport: A Better Approach to Commissioning Non-Emergency Transport? Together they provide a vision of what we believe the future of our NEPT network could look like.

Why are CTA involved in this research?

NEPT is most successful where it draws on local knowledge and makes the most of resources that already exist within communities.  To make these local systems function more successfully we believe the NHS needs to adopt a more innovative approach to provision and commissioning.

The involvement of charities providing transport has been a long-standing benefit to the health service and patients. CTA’s own State of the Sector research has consistently shown that journeys into health settings are the second most common reason given for using community transport. Whilst this is valued enormously by their passengers, much is currently unrecognised by the institutions that benefit and is therefore insufficiently integrated with their own provision.

Through this report we have brought to life the lessons from community transport on accessibility, inclusivity and relationships with passengers and considered how these can be applied to the wider transport network.

The NHS is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of individuals and our communities. It is time to work creatively and collaboratively to improve the range and quality of transport services so that fewer people face barriers to accessing the care they need and deserve. We hope that this report is a useful tool for guiding this work.

What’s next?

The report makes a range of recommendations for transport providers and transport commissioners.  If you work in this field, we want to hear from you, and find ways to work together to implement some of the recommendations.

If anything strikes a chord with what you are trying to achieve through your role and activities then please get in touch.

Email: hello@ctauk.org

#iWill Week – stories from Community Transport

Emma Sims

Back in August, CTA pledged to the #iwill campaign, a national campaign run by the charity Step Up to Serve. The campaign aims to get 60% of young people involved in social action by 2020. This includes activities such as volunteering, fundraising and campaigning.

When many young people are isolated from the opportunities around them, we know that community transport and the incredible work your organisations do can connect them to these opportunities, offering chances for them to get involved in social action; enhancing their skills, and at the same time, strengthening their own communities.

This week is #iwill week, a week all about celebrating young people who lead social action and the organisations who provide the opportunities for them to do this. In celebration of #iwillweek we spoke to two CTA members who provide opportunities for young people to get involved in social action; Concern Wadebridge, a charity supporting local people over 50, based in north Cornwall; and Action4Youth, a youth charity based in Buckinghamshire.

Read on to find out about the social action opportunities they offer for young people in, and alongside the world of community transport.

Concern Wadebridge 

Concern Wadebridge is a charity for local people over 50; they provide social action opportunities for young people in their area as well as providing connection for young people to access the opportunities around them through community transport.

Tell us about Concern Wadebridge

“Concern Wadebridge is a charity for local people over 50. We provide a ‘Youth Club’ for older and disabled people, as well Access Wadebridge that provides wheelchair accessible minibuses, Shopmobility and voluntary cars. The centre is a community hub that supports a wide range of activities, as well as a safe haven and information hub.

We provide opportunities bringing all ages of the community working together to benefit the community. We work with the local secondary school  where young people volunteer in keeping our centre grounds tidy, and we also promote intergenerational work helping in the kitchen and on our reception. We also encourage helping young people to learn how to check a vehicle over, hoping it might help them in later life when they have their own car.

At the moment, we have one young volunteer who had issues around self-confidence, being supported by a more mature volunteer. He is now volunteering, meeting people and providing teas and coffees, he has come out of his shell and feels valued by what he does. He is now more confident in meeting new people and has no problem in making sure his opinion counts!”

How has community transport supported your opportunities for young people? 

“Having the use of minibuses means we can provide trips out and about and as we live in a very rural area. It has meant young people have been able to access activities in larger towns and also Truro. Transport is crucial in our area and the use of community minibuses brings greater opportunities to young people that without them would not be there. We deliver transport that makes a difference to the lives of others!”

Action4Youth 

Action4Youth is a youth charity providing positive experiences and activities which inspire children and young people. They deliver outdoor education and run their area’s National Citizen Service (NCS), a national voluntary personal and social development programme for 15–17 year olds, and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Tell us about Action4Youth

“Our aim is to enable young people of all abilities and disabilities to learn to challenge themselves and work with others – learning what they can achieve rather than what they can’t. We support over 80 youth clubs and organisations throughout the area giving guidance and support to help their growth and development including our own Young Leaders programme.

In September 2017 we launched The Inspiration Programme, a unique, accredited course for young people developing them for life and preparing them for work. The programme focusses directly on young people, giving them tools to understand themselves and their peers, to help them grow in self-esteem and communication skills.

We hope that those who we work with are more self-confident and have greater self-esteem, are better engaged with their peers and their communities, more socially aware and ready for life and work.

One young person who attended our NCS programme, Jack, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with autistic traits, which means that whilst he’s very sociable, he struggles to interact appropriately. Jack’s mum, Mel said: “Jack was very sceptical at first; he told me he was nervous about going because he didn’t know anyone, but by the end of the first week he was buzzing. He loved all of the activities, and taking part in things he’d never done before, especially the Dragon’s Den experience and working for a charity.”

How has community transport supported your opportunities for young people?

“Access to the minibus has enabled us to work more broadly with schools in both bringing young people to our Milton Keynes centre and delivering programmes in the schools. It has enabled us to run our Duke of Edinburgh expeditions programme at lower rates and more simply as we no longer have to hire transport. This makes the programme more accessible to disadvantaged young people.

We are able to access charities in more remote (non-public transport linked) areas in order that our young people can safely visit, volunteer and raise funds for them as part of their community social action projects, extending the reach and impact of what they are able to achieve to a wider number of beneficiaries.”


We’re encouraging all our members, whether you currently work with young people or not, to consider offering youth social action opportunities in your organisations, recognising the role young people can play in addressing the challenges you face.

Big thanks go to Nick from Action4Youth and Andy from Concern Wadebridge for sharing their stories. You can read our original blog on the #iwill campaign here.

Why I became a Trustee – Chris Kutesko

CTA’s newest trustee, Chris Kutesko, writes about his journey through community transport and shares what inspired him to become a CTA Trustee. 

Chris Kutesko

Most of my professional life has been spent working with transport and accessibility and, as a result, I’ve always been aware of the incredibly important role that community transport plays within the public passenger transport framework. Among other benefits, it provides better access to education and employment opportunities, as well as healthcare and recreation. Community transport not only plugs the gaps left by the commercial network it also delivers an enhanced local focus and helps to combat loneliness and social isolation. It provides a personal, often door to door, service for our customers allowing them to meet people and reach destinations which might well otherwise be inaccessible to them. Equally importantly, it provides a whole range of community involvement opportunities for a huge number of volunteers in roles such as car and minibus drivers, passenger care assistants, administrative staff and charity trustees.

When I ceased to work in paid employment I was therefore very pleased to be able to become a trustee of BACT a medium sized community transport operator which connects communities throughout the Waveney district of Suffolk and in parts of South Norfolk.  I joined an organisation which comprised some 80 volunteers and 10 employees and through a very steep learning curve gradually came to better understand the complexities and challenges inherent in providing a community transport service.

I was also able to appreciate the absolutely vital difference we made to the lives of our passengers for whom we were providing much more than just a transport service. Additionally I began to get a better view of the overall community transport sector: how there were so many operators throughout the country, how they varied so much in size and the services they were able to provide and, especially, how important volunteers were to all of them.

I also began to appreciate how, for an industry as diverse and geographically diffused as ours, it was important to have a strong national co-ordinating body, such as the CTA, which listens to its member organisations and takes on board their views in developing policies to champion community transport. CTA is also able to provide the necessary advice and support to help members to deliver the best possible services.  It can argue at strategic levels on behalf of community transport, present the case for its continued development and funding and develop stronger links with other sectors, such as healthcare, whose services we help to support.

I therefore had no hesitation in applying to be considered for the role of CTA trustee when vacancies were announced earlier this year and at the Annual General Meeting earlier this month I was delighted that my application to join the CTA Board of Trustees was confirmed.

Trustees play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity’s work. This week is Trustees’ Week which is an annual event to showcase the work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people to get involved and make a difference.

I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, the staff of CTA and our member organisations to continue to increase awareness of the vital role that community transport plays within our social fabric and the importance of ensuring appropriate legislative and funding provisions to enable it to continue, develop and prosper.

Share your stories this Community Transport Christmas!

CT Christmas

It may only be November, but here at the Community Transport Association we’ve already started to think about Christmas! 

It’s easy to look at the Christmas adverts that are starting to appear on the TV, at the lights and decorations that are going up across the country, and assume that everyone is surrounded by family and friends at this time of year. But for so many people across the UK, this isn’t the case. There are those who are alone at Christmas, who don’t have anyone to celebrate with or don’t have access to transport to get out and about.

That’s why community transport works across the Christmas period, even on Christmas day, to provide those who would otherwise be alone, with family, friendship, company and independence over the holidays.

We want to spend this December telling the inspiring stories of the amazing work that our members do at Christmas. If you have a community transport Christmas story to tell, we want to hear from you!

Whether it’s a specific person or group that you’ve helped, something you’ve done in the past, something you’re doing this year or something you do every year, we know you have a story to tell!

We can’t wait to hear your stories and share them here on our blog. In the past, these posts have got thousands of views, prompted a letter of congratulations to a member from the Director of Local Transport at the Department for Transport, and have been read out in a Parliamentary debate!

So make sure you send in your stories, and keep an eye out in December for our community transport Christmas blogs.

To share your story you can send an email to tom@ctauk.org or fill in this short online form.

 

Member Profile – Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport

It’s a Monday afternoon in mid-July in Aviemore, a town nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish highlands. Aviemore is well known for its outstanding natural beauty and is a popular tourist spot for hiking, skiing and sightseeing. It’s also home to Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company, who recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary.

BSCTC was established in 1997 as a car scheme which focused on providing transport to enable people to attend medical appointments. While the area is beloved for its beautiful scenery, rural life can create problems for accessing transport. This is particularly the case as people age and have less access to cars, or are unwilling to drive in the darker winter months. This can lead to sections of the community becoming isolated in their own homes, unable to access shops, healthcare services or visit friends and family. Over the past twenty years, BSCTC have aimed to address these issues by providing accessible transport to enable people to continue to participate in their communities and live well independently.

On Monday afternoons, BSCTC transports local residents to the Strath Sunshine Club, a popular event which offers varied activities such as speakers, musical afternoons and craft sessions, along with tea and cake.

Today, volunteer driver Kenny is in charge of the BSCTC minibus which travels around the town, picking up passengers from their homes and dropping them at the club. Kenny has been driving for BSCTC for about 18 months, and is enthusiastic about the great asset that BSCTC is to the local community. He explains that the transport provided by BSCTC is a lifeline to older residents in the area. It creates and sustains friendships, builds community, and simply makes many people happy on a daily basis as it brings them out of their homes and enables them to shop, socialise and enjoy community life.

When asked what the best part of volunteering is, Kenny immediately replies, ‘The people.’ He explains that he gets huge job satisfaction from volunteering, knowing that he is making a difference in peoples’ lives. And he enjoys chatting with the passengers on the bus, hearing their news and stories about what is happening in the town.

All the passengers also enjoy the opportunity to chat during the bus journey. Everyone knows each other, and there is much laughter and joking on the way to the club. Every time a new passenger gets on the bus, they are warmly greeted by those already on board. Everyone talks at once, and all are full of enthusiasm for the afternoon’s activities.

Sheila and Joan are passengers on the bus this Monday. Both are eager to emphasise how great BSCTC is, and the enjoyment they get out of using the service. Sheila adds that she couldn’t fault the BSCTC and the great care that all staff and volunteers take with each passenger, helping them on and off the bus, making sure that everyone is comfortable, and demonstrating genuine concern for each passenger’s wellbeing.

And the passengers keep Kenny on his toes, too. When he makes a wrong turn, a chorus of cheery voices shout out that he’s gone the wrong way and tease him about forgetting one of the gang.

After dropping the group off at the club, Kenny takes the bus back to BSCTC headquarters in Aviemore where the office team are busy taking bookings for the week ahead. BSCTC has grown and evolved over the past twenty years, responding to the needs of the local community and the people it serves. It is currently under the management of Maggie Lawson, who explains that after setting up the car scheme, BSCTC quickly realised that good transport could provide so many benefits for older people and people with reduced mobility. Now, BSCTC have a dual focus of ‘health and wellbeing’. Alongside the car scheme, they offer a busy schedule of lunches, dinners, outings, and shopping trips which provide people with opportunities to meet new faces, socialise with old friends, shop and carry out their errands. The weekly trips to Aviemore supermarkets are particularly popular, as shoppers often meet together for lunch before doing their shopping.

The BSCTC also offer several registered bus routes which run throughout the week providing door-to-door transport for communities in Carrbridge, Boat of Garten, Glenmore and Cairngorm, amongst others. Passengers hop on the buses to go for coffee with a friend or to visit a relative in a neighbouring village. While the social aspect of BSCTC has expanded, Maggie emphasises that good transport remains at the heart of everything that they do. Accessible, reliable, local transport is the key which unlocks all the other opportunities which BSCTC offer residents of Badenoch and Strathspey.

As the ladies travelling on the Monday afternoon bus made clear, after twenty years of faithful service, BSCTC is beloved by the community it serves and is a vital part of many people’s daily lives. As they look forward to the next twenty years, the team at BSCTC can be proud that the transport they provide for the local community is a lifeline, a support system and a lively social network all rolled into one.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the BSCTC or want to find out more about the services they provide, visit their website http://www.ct4u.co.uk

Scarborough Dial A Ride – the views of our passengers

Julie Banks, Scarborough Dial A Ride

Scarborough Dial A Ride has been in existence for over 34 years, providing fully accessible, safe and affordable transport to the urban and rural communities around Scarborough and Filey.  Our fleet of 9 fully accessible minibuses and one accessible car is staffed in the main with volunteer drivers and passenger escorts.

Every 18 months or so we undertake a survey of our passengers to make sure we are providing a service that meets their transport needs and help identify any changes or improvements we need to make.

Over the course of 2 weeks in August this year we distributed 164 questionnaires to everyone that travelled, or handed them to carers, parents and guardians if appropriate.  In total we received 134 responses – a magnificent return rate of 82%, particularly when you consider that there was no incentive to complete the survey and many put a stamp on to return the form.

Overall, 100% of our passengers were happy with our services, with 91% saying our service was excellent and 9% rating us as good.

In terms of the demographics of our respondents, results showed that over half are over the age of 80, not surprising for towns like Scarborough and Filey with their popularity as places to retire.  10% were aged 25 or under and the ratio of women to men had increased since our last survey from 70% to 78%.  Low car ownership and dependency of community transport was highlighted in the fact that 92% do not own a car coupled with the statistic that 87% of our respondents say they have a mobility problem.

When asked why people use Dial A Ride, the main reason (90%) say it is because of the door to door service followed by helpful staff (82%), closely followed the fact that we are reliable (80%) and affordable (79%).  It is interesting to see that 54% of people enjoyed using Dial A Ride because they meet other people on the bus.

In light of recent events it is concerning to see that despite being eligible for free bus passes, half of our passengers state they have difficulty in using public transport (an increase of 4%) combined with 43% that point to the lack of nearby bus routes (up 18%).  A third of our passengers also say that they simply cannot afford to use taxis – the Borough of Scarborough continues to be the most deprived district in North Yorkshire so this is not surprising.

We know that community transport improves the quality of life for passengers and a resounding 98% of ours agree.  Our services help tackle loneliness, reduce social isolation and keep people independent – all important factors in supporting passengers’ health and well-being thereby reducing dependency on NHS and social care services, both of which have seen services drastically reduced or cut in recent years.  Among the specific benefits of using Dial A Ride, is that passengers make new friends (53%), feel less isolated (49%), are more confident (44%) and have a more positive outlook (33%).

The real stars are, unsurprisingly, our drivers and passenger escorts (the majority of whom are volunteers) and the high regard in which they are held by passengers, carers, parents and guardians is evident in the comments that respondents took the time to make.  Just a small sample of these can be found on the questionnaire results, which you can find in full here.

Transport Select Committee Inquiry: Your Response

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On 10 October 2017, Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the  Transport Select Committee in the UK Parliament launched an inquiry into the licencing arrangements for community transport in the light of the Department for Transport’s 31 July letter on Section 19/22 Permits and driver licencing.

In a recent blog for members we encouraged all community transport providers and those who support and care about what we do to respond to this Inquiry.  By responding to the inquiry you will be helping to build evidence for the Transport Select Committee so that they can have a deeper understanding about the work you do and the positive impact you have on your passengers and your local community. It will also help them understand the risks, costs and consequences of the Department for Transport continuing down the path it has chosen. You may also wish to use your response to start a discussion with your local MP on the impact of these proposed changes.

Please note that this is not the Department for Transport’s consultation, the date and details of which are yet to be announced. We will also be contacting our members in Northern Ireland separately as they operate under a different regulatory regime.

Your Response

To support you in demonstrating your impact to the Transport Select Committee we have put together a guidance document and a response template.

The guidance document provides prompts suggesting the types of information that would helpfully illustrate the nature and value of your services and how any changes to regulations may have an impact on your work in the future.

Download the guidance document

This should be used alongside the response template in order to structure your response in line with the Inquiry’s five lines of questioning.

Download the response template

Next Steps

CTA is currently putting together its formal response to the Committee which will be released for you to read in the coming week.

You can find more details on the Transport Select Committee Inquiry here, and a guide to submitting written evidence to the Inquiry here.

Deadline:

Once you have completed your response please send it to the Transport Select Committee here before Friday 03 November. 

We would love to see your responses – if you would like to share, please email a copy to hello@ctauk.org and if you have any questions or would like any additional guidance please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Community Transport raised at Transport Questions|19 October

James Coe Banner

At Transport Questions today, MPs asked Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Jesse Norman, a number of questions on the future of community transport, following the Department for Transport’s letter to all permit issuing bodies on 31st July 

To keep our members up to date we have reproduced the questions for you here:

Robert Courts MP | Conservative MP for Witney & West Oxfordshire:

“Community Transport plays a vital role in connecting communities in rural areas, in West Oxfordshire and indeed throughout the country. And such groups are very worried about the impact of the issue and use of section 19 and 22 permits, could the Minister confirm that local community groups, even if they pay a driver and take a fare, will not be treated as commercial providers if they are registered as a not for profit organisation?”

Jesse Norman’s Response:

“First of all we are very strongly supportive of Community Transport operators in general, and the second is that we have been under some pressure to clarify the rules regarding local transport operators who are tacitly operating commercially. Now I’m sure that isn’t the case in Oxfordshire but it is the case in other parts of the country. If his local transport authority has difficulty, he’d be welcome to have them talk to my officials and, or the Community Transport Association.”

Norman Lamb MP | Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk:

“To return to the concerns of Community Transport operators, many are concerned, including North Norfolk Community Transport, that the new ruling will push them under, losing absolutely vital rural community transport links. What is the Minister doing to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and what’s the timescale for the consultation? When will this actually come in because the uncertainty is very dangerous?” 

 Jesse Norman’s Response:

“I fully recognise the concern, as you will know the Department are taking a very careful attitude; there will be no rapid over-enforcement on this, we will be giving people as much chance as possible to show that their activities are not commercial in an acquired sense. We launch the consultation later this autumn, and I think we’ll take it from there.”

Stephen Metcalfe  MP| Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock

“Mr Speaker, following on in the same vein, I recently met with Basildon Community Transport who expressed grave concerns and are already pointing at a neighbouring community transport operator who is closing because of the uncertainty around this. Will my honourable friend agree to meet with me, Basildon Community Transport and the Community Transport Association to clarify the situation?”

Jesse Norman’s Response:

“Yes of course. Well of course I have met the Community Transport Association and discussed at some length with them, as have my officials over some time, and with other community transport entities. I’d be delighted to meet him and his constituents.”


Since the Department for Transport letter landed our members across the country have been reaching out to their MPs.

If you would like to contact your local MP but are unsure who they are you can find their contact details here.

As ever, if you have any questions or need any advice, you can contact us at hello@ctauk.org