£25m funding for CT minibuses
Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has announced £25m to provide hundreds of new minibuses to community transport operators in rural and isolated areas. The scheme is intended to support voluntary organisations who the Department claims provide vital services for people in rural communities with limited transport choices. The new fund means that organisations who already provide a service to the local community can bid for a minibus. Smaller operators and those who help out in rural areas will be favoured in the scheme. Each bidder can apply for one vehicle and the Transport Secretary made clear that they can only be employed on voluntary services and not be used to compete for bus service contracts.
Patrick McLoughlin said, ‘As a rural MP I know how important community bus providers are and how much they matter. These groups help keep rural communities alive and independent. We want to do all we can to support local voluntary operators who help out in these areas.’
Chief Executive of the Community Transport Association, Bill Freeman, said, ‘Our own research shows that many organisations, particularly smaller ones serving their immediate neighbourhoods, struggle to put aside money to replace vehicles. This will come as welcome news to them.’
Full details of how the scheme will operate and the information charities will need when applying are due to be set out shortly.