Community transport (also known as CT), offers a safe and accessible service for those who are unable to travel independently or use public transport. In rural areas, the elderly may not be able to drive and so community transport is a vital service to enable them to live their lives to the full and remain active in their local community. People often ask us “what is community transport?” as this form of transport service is generally run as a not for profit service by volunteers and paid staff. In some cases professional drivers are also used.
Very often, community transport will even provide a door-to-door service for people to enable those with accessibility and mobility concerns a worry free experience to go about their daily lives so that they can remain working and fulfil social activities.
Community transport schemes generally involve local members of the community such as volunteer drivers to support them called a community car scheme (also known as a voluntary car scheme). Some schemes also provide what is known as a ‘Dial a Ride‘ service whereby a passenger requests a pickup time, and they are picked up by an accessible vehicle or minibus.
The types of services provided can also vary and commonly include group travel, dial a ride (as above), shop mobility, patient transport, ring and ride, door to door and on demand transport.
What Makes Community Transport So Different to Other Modes of Transport?
Usually, the main purpose of CT is to provide access for those in need of transport to medical appointments, leisure activities, work, social care education (and more). CT particularly addresses the requirements of the elderly, disabled, those who are less mobile or have become cut off from community life. Community transport removes the dependence upon public transport to attend vital services.
Community transport has been proven to reduce depression, anxiety and indeed in some instances even save lives ensuring patients make their medical appointments. Community transport services operate within specific locations but can travel far and wide.
The aims of community transport operators is to deliver a safe, reliable and friendly service at a rate which is affordable and sustainable to the community. Without community transport services key members of the community could not live a full life. It is the vital backbone of any community.
Why Community Transport Matters
The UK population is an ageing population. As a result, isolation and loneliness is increasing across the country. This can have a detrimental effect on the mental health and quality of life of the elderly. Isolation itself can lead to a negative impact on health, disturbed sleep, increased blood pressure and a general decline in cognitive ability. Community transport keeps people engaged and connected at a time when they need it most.
CT is so much more than the journey itself. It brings with it economic benefits to the community itself and enables it’s users to continue to socialise when they otherwise couldn’t. Not only does it help combat loneliness (for the passengers and drivers!), it allows people to remain independent at a time in their life when many thought they would not be able to get around. This helps improve general health, well-being and engagement for many. It is a vital part of people’s lives. Without community transport, many would be cut off from society.
Who Qualifies to Use This Type of Transport Service?
Generally anyone may find themselves with a need to use community transport. For example, you might have injured yourself or require ongoing medical treatments and not be able to drive and can’t afford a commercial taxi. This is exactly where community transport can step in and help in your area. Typically, the following can use CT:
- For when you have a specific health or social need but are not able to access or eligible to use free transport
- For when you are unable to use or access public transport services
- For when you can’t access transport services which might otherwise be provided by friends and family
- For when you need a journey to perform essential shopping or access to medication.
- For when you need day care or respite care, community transport can step in
Loneliness is an increasing concern among the elderly. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health. Lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Believe it or not, but loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%. Almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel (according to a survey carried out for the late Jo Cox commission on loneliness). The poll by Gransnet, the over-50s social networking site, also found that about seven in 10 (71%) respondents (average age 63) said their close friends and family would be surprised or astonished to hear that they felt lonely.
Increased Cuts to Community Bus Routes
The ‘Buses in Crises’ research by Campaign for Better Transport, shows that almost £30 million has been cut from local authority supported bus funding which has resulted in huge disruptions for communities. This has placed increased demand from the elderly on community transport services and their Dial a Ride, voluntary car schemes and accessible vehicle services.
Find out how Road XS is filling the void and serving local communities.
The Increasing Need for Volunteer Drivers
Without volunteer drivers, members of the community who rely on community transport would find it difficult to get to where they need to be. Volunteer driver’s greatly assist in ensuring community members maintain a high quality of life. Without the drivers, services would grind to a halt, and society in general would suffer across the country.
Volunteer drivers do more than just drive passengers around. They provide:
- door-to-door rides
- a door-to-door service
- one-to-one escorting for the vulnerable
- assist with shopping and parcels
- become friends of the passengers they serve
They also ensure social inclusion and confidence especially for the elderly as they get to where they need to be.