Community transport is the backbone of many communities across the UK. Without these type of services people simply wouldn’t be able to travel and live their lives to their full potential. They would miss medical appointments and during the pandemic would not have received food parcels nor been able to attend vaccination appointments. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the value of community and community transport services more than every before. It has also highlighted the importance of keeping these services running and sustainable and not something which is wholly reliant on funding.
Over 400,000 people in the UK need subsidised travel.
What is Community Transport?
Those who use community transport services rely on the support of local transport services to help live their lives to the fullest (in ordinary times). Whether it’s getting a lift to the shops to get fresh fruit and vegetables or taking someone to hospital appointments, community transport plays an essential role in their daily lives.
Community transport provides an accessible community driven and flexible service to isolated, vulnerable, the elderly and people with disabilities. However, as more people learn about the value of community transport, younger users of the service are emerging, especially in rural locations.
Unfortunately not enough people know about, or understand how important community transport is.
Community transport typically operates voluntary car schemes (also known as community car schemes), community bus services, school transport, hospital transport (patient transport), dial a ride, wheels to work and group hire services.
Services are demand responsive in nature, meaning that those who use the service drive the requirements of the services.
For example, if you require a medical appointment, you would make a call to your local community transport provider who might then find you a driver locally who can get you there on time. If you required a visit to the shops, you might request a dial a ride service which would most likely be a minibus that would come to your house and take you to the shops. The majority if community transport is performed door to door, which makes it fully accessible to the most vulnerable in society, but some services operate from a timetable and a fixed route where public transport is unavailable.
Run for community and social purposes, community transport is seen by many as the most reliable and resilient of transport services which can offer the most variety of service options to individual needs.
The Economic Importance of Community Transport
When you live in a rural area, you may be faced with a number of challenges when it comes to social mobility. Travelling by car can be difficult for elderly or disabled people to do, which is why it is essential that they are able to get to appointments, social events, work, or support services. This is where community transport comes in to play. Volunteer drivers will often take people where the need to be, volunteering their time (but able to claim expenses) to ensure people are able to move and continue with their lives.
Demand responsive transport is the new forward-looking approach which aims to save operational cost and deliver more environmentally friendly services within local communities. Now that the technology is here (find out more), no longer do councils and Government need to focus solely on fixed routes which often lead to empty bus stops and misspent capital, but to a more demand driven solution that better meets the needs and convenience of the passengers using the service.
The Social Importance of Community Transport
The importance of the social and community impact of community transport was highlighted in a report, Freedom for Community Transport. The report found that over 400,000 people in the UK need subsidised travel, some of which are older people with limited mobility who rely on public transport to get to work, take their children to school and to visit their families. A second group of people in particular are older people who need community transport to travel to doctors appointments or social activities. They also rely on community transport to access services and visits that are vital to them. The report found that almost three quarters of community transport users do not have their own cars and many of these individuals rely on the lifts on trains to get to and from stations.
The Environmental Importance of Community Transport
By creating transport links within a community, you can combat some of the most pressing issues affecting the environment. Enabling connected and integrated transport services ensures that services are working together and not against each other. One of the most difficult issues people face is where funding prevents people from accessing vital transport links, especially when they live close to county borders.
In working together, services cut pollution, support local businesses and enable greater community interactions. It provides the freedom for people to make new friendships and get to know others around them, especially when they might ordinarily be sat alone in their car. Advances in technology such as that found in Road XS, ensure that fluid transport routes can be calculated automatically reducing the workload on operators that meant that services often ran below their potential capacity to ensure everyone arrived on time. This in itself reduces the carbon footprint on the local area as well as reduces the need to run services when there is no demand.
The Problem with Community Transport
Unfortunately not enough people know about, or understand how important community transport is. This means that local services often don’t get the exposure they need, nor the recognition they deserve. Given the nature of how Local Government works, very often areas which need transport services are deprived of them simply due to funding cuts or where money is spent on other projects in the area. It can sometimes be disjointed.
This is why with Road XS we set out to provide the only integrated transport software which caters for each aspect of community transport, but also for the wider commercial world so that both sectors benefit from each other. With funding in short supply to organisations that run such services, with Road XS we have developed all the technology you need to run more efficiently, reliably and provide a more personal service to your passengers than anyone else.
If you are interested in exploring community transport, then we encourage you to do so as it will open your eyes to the immense success it has achieved and the importance of supporting these services for future generations.
If you already run a community transport service and want to become more efficient so you can focus on expanding your services to more people in your local area, then please contact us. We can show you how, including the work we have done with organisations like the Red Cross.
Don’t forget to also check out our community area which also has more resources for you relating to community transport and transport in general.