Transport for 

Community transport – tackling community problems

The problem: social exclusion

Social exclusion is recognised today as a major problem by both local and central government across the UK. Individuals or groups find themselves unable to do the everyday things that the majority take for granted.

Exclusion can take many forms, and result from a variety of causes.

A major factor is lack of access to transport. Many people take transport for granted. But those with no transport may find it difficult or impossible to get to work, shopping, health facilities or social events.

They may include disabled or elderly people, or people on low incomes, with no car, and limited (or non-existent) public transport.

The problem: spiralling transport costs

Many statutory authorities face uncontrollable rises in the cost of both bespoke and regular transport for their clients. It is not unheard of for a taxi journey of less than 20 miles to result in a three-figure charge.

Resources invested in such transport are lost to the authority and the unpredictable nature of the demand makes budgetary control very difficult.

An answer: community transport (CT)

Practical experience in neighbouring Greater Manchester has demonstrated that:

  1. An accessible minibus delivering transport to employment might, off shift or at weekends, be used for transport for excluded groups in the community, who find main bus or rail services do not meet their needs.
  2. A smaller, single or dual occupancy accessible vehicle used for education contracts might, outside the core morning and afternoon times, be used to provide bespoke transport for elderly or disable people to access food shopping, health facilities or social activities.
  3. Surplus from contracts is ploughed back into the organisation to support socially vital, but hard to fund, services for socially excluded groups and individuals.

Community transport organisations work to similar exacting operational standards as PSV operators, and are regulated and inspected by the Vehicle Inspectorate.

Community Transport Should not be seen as a “cheap” option for contracted services.

However, as a socially and community-focused alternative that provides better usage of resources, it might be considered to provide better value than, for example, a three-figure fare for transporting a child from one end of a borough to another.