Getabout and Community Development

The availability of transport is vital in underpinning a good quality of life: it enables people to live independently, participate in their community and to access education, employment, health and other services. 

Access to transport is something many of us take for granted   Most of us now have access to private vehicles,(the  DVLA reports that 36 million vehicles were registered with them at the end of 2016) and  existing public transport  meets the needs of many of those people that don’t have their own vehicle.

However in a world where funding cuts are constantly threatening the availability of subsidies for public transport, and operators can only provide services where they are able to break even or make a profit, gaps in service are inevitable. This is particularly the case, although not exclusively, in isolated rural communities where people needing services are very dispersed and the numbers likely to use any timetabled service are relatively low.

Assessing the true level and type of need, and finding cost effective solutions to plug the gaps can be very difficult and that is where CAN’s role in Getabout comes in.  Over the next 18 months we will be working with local communities where a lack of transport is perceived to be a problem, to help them to realistically assess the level and type of local need, consider the range of public and community transport options available to them and identify the best solutions for residents in their area.

We aim to develop a small number of pilot projects to demonstrate how communities can work towards solving transport issues.  In doing this we will be testing out, and refining a ‘transport toolkit’ developed by Northumberland County Council, which aims to help communities to:

Audit the available services in their area and where appropriate promote them more widely to local people.  Sometimes part of the problem can be that people are not fully aware of the options available and better publicity might solve their problems, improve take up of existing services and help to ensure that these remain sustainable in the future.

Carry out a transport needs survey with local residents which is designed to produce robust, realistic evidence of need.  It is not enough to simply ask local residents if they think better transport provision would be a good idea – many will say yes even if they are unlikely to use a service themselves.  A good survey needs to identify who needs services (older people, disabled people, adults in one car households who are stuck at home whilst another family member uses the car, young people who are not yet able to drive, those on low incomes), why they need transport (to get to work, health appointments, shops, leisure activities, visit family etc) and at what time of day or of the week they need the services.  The survey should also identify barriers to accessing transport – a lack of services, mobility issues, affordability, distance from bus stops etc).

Consider a wide range of possible solutions.  Is there sufficient demand to justify the provision of a new public service or to add stops to an existing one?  Are there community led transport solutions that would meet the need?  A wide range of community led models are available including:

  • Community owned minibuses or other vehicles
  • Wheels to work schemes
  • Dial a rides
  • Volunteer driver schemes
  • Shared car schemes
  • Community hire cars

We know that every community is different and that a project is most likely to succeed when driven by local people.  If you would like to take a detailed look at the transport needs in your area, we would like to hear from you (please bear in mind that if demand is too great we may have to prioritise a manageable number of projects.) 

Please contact Julia Plinston, email juliaplinston@ca-north.org.uk, tel 01670 517178 for more details or to discuss becoming involved.