Cash boost for bus services

The South West of Scotland Transport Partnership has been successful in its funding bid for £67,000 to the Bus Investment Fund.

The cash will support the further roll out of the Rural Transport Solutions project, a partnership between SWestrans, Dumfries and Galloway Council and NHS Dumfries and Galloway aiming to create rural transport services to reduce social exclusion and assist with health and social care.

The project is currently being piloted in Wigtownshire where it has enabled Wigtown Community Transport to access council buses which were not previously used between 9am and 3pm to deliver services to the Activity and Resource Centre in Stranraer amongst others. The council says the pilot has reduced costs to the ARC, increased the trading income for the community transport group and increased satisfaction on the part of service users.

The proposed schedule for the further roll out will see the project being operational in each of the four areas of Dumfries and Galloway by 2016.

Brian Collins, Depute Leader of the Council and Chair of the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership which submitted the bid to the Scottish Government on behalf of the partners, said: “SWestrans is keen to see the development of innovative approaches to address gaps in provision in rural areas, and I am pleased that the Scottish Government has recognised the potential of the Rural Transport Solutions project. I look forward to seeing real improvements in provision over the next two years.”

Colin Smyth, Chair of the Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council look forward to working with its public, private and voluntary sector partners, and the general public, to design and operate a rural transport service that responds to the needs of the rural communities in Dumfries and Galloway. There are real opportunities through this project to improve the sustainability of some of our most fragile communities.”

David Bryson, General Manager Operations at NHS Dumfries & Galloway, said “Access to health facilities is one of the key areas where good transport facilities can help to improve the quality of life in rural areas. Moreover, improved access to social, leisure and other activities can assist in improving the physical and mental well-being of people in our rural communities.”