Mid Wales’ community transport sector has been celebrated this week (Wednesday 28th November) at the National Assembly for Wales.
The Montgomeryshire Assembly Member, Russell George, joined community transport providers from all over Wales who brought their minibuses and passengers to show the impact their work has on communities across the country.
In all parts of Wales, on every day of the year, thousands of community transport staff and volunteers help people stay independent, participate in their communities and access vital services. Community transport is about providing flexible and accessible community solutions in response to unmet local transport needs, and often represents the only means of transport for many vulnerable and isolated people. For many, community transport is seen as a lifeline.
Community Transport in Powys is one of the largest and most developed networks in the whole of Wales. Indeed, a third of all community transport organisations in Wales are run in Powys.
The Powys Association for Voluntary Organisations provides support for a range of community transport schemes operating across Powys from Dial a Ride operations, school contracts, community car schemes, taxi schemes and mini-bus hire for third sector groups.
Speaking during the event, Mr George, who is also Chair of the National Assembly’s Economy & Infrastructure Committee, which consider transport matters, said:
“Powys’ geography; sparsely distributed population; and relatively limited public transport infrastructure, means that community transport provides a crucial lifeline to vulnerable and deprived residents who would not otherwise be able to access the services and opportunities which matter to them.
“Without these services, not only is it estimated that half of the 8,000 passengers in Powys would lose their transport but the financial consequences for the local authority and the health board would also be significant and it is estimated that Powys County Council would have to spend an additional three quarters of a million pounds to cover the same health and social services currently serviced by community transport operators.
“From my Committee's perspective, I know that we conducted quite an extensive inquiry into community transport during the fourth Assembly in 2016 which outlined a range of recommendations for Welsh Government to consider. I am sure that my fellow committee members would be happy to review this piece of work at an appropriate time in the future to see whether or not the recommendations of the Committee have been adopted and implemented by the Welsh Government.
“In the meantime, you will not find a stronger advocate than me for the vital role which community transport plays in Powys and I'm delighted to have been able to take part in this celebration of the community transport sector at the Assembly this week.”
Christine Boston, Director of the Community Transport Association in Wales, stated:
“We are grateful for the support of Russell. Community transport adds so much to our communities and lack of access to transport and isolation are often forgotten when we think of good policies across everything from hospitals to schools, to employment.
“I look forward to working with all AMs in Wales to support and develop community transport further, and ensure that we continue to provide vital support to the most vulnerable in our communities. We are grateful for the continued support.”