The transport select committee is reviewing the regulations that apply to Community Transport. This is our submission.
Transport Select Committee
House of Commons
LONDON SW1 0AA
25th October 2017
Lillian Greenwood MP – Chair Transport Select committee
This is our written submission on the inquiry into Community Transport.
From: Jill Elson – I am the founder and chairman of this organisation since it began in 1990.
We started life as a single wheelchair accessible vehicle for those people unable to use the public transport service either because there is no public transport in a rural area or they are unable to walk or wheel themselves to the public transport bus stop. This was to allow as many people to live in their own homes as independently as possible and be able to meet friends, do their own shopping, go on trips, attend medical appointments, have lunch with others or just an ice cream on the seafront that they have not seen for many months. It is about preventing social isolation. Social isolation is increasing as more and more people are being cared for in their own homes, wherever possible.
ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT IS ESSENTIAL FOR PEOPLE TO HAVE A GOOD QUALITY OF LIFE AND BE AS INDEPENDENT AS POSSIBLE.
We have 3 tail lift wheelchair accessible buses. 1 sixteen seater tail lift minibus, 1 Tail lift minibus seating 8 people, one single wheelchair vehicle that can take escorts or relatives. We run under section 19 permits which means they have to book their seat at least a day in advance. The change in regulations that a person without D1 on their licence can only drive an 8 seat vehicle is increasing our costs as it limits the number of people who can travel at any one time. In order to guarantee a service on all our vehicles we have paid drivers and volunteer drivers. If we have to use the Commercial regulations it will increase our costs to a level that we will be unable to raise sufficient funds by grants etc or the fares we charge will be unaffordable by many, many people on fixed or low incomes.
- Manager Certificate of Professional Competence £2000
- Requirements for full D1 licence for all drivers £1500 per driver (estimated cost)
- PSV Licence ‘proof of Financial Standing’ reserves £6650 (1st vehicle) then £3700 per vehicle
- Higher MOT test costs and additional servicing £300 per vehicle per year
- Higher cost medical certificate (3 yearly) £120 per driver (per year over 60)
Tachograph (if not already fitted) £1500 per vehicle
- Loss of ability to reclaim BSOG fuel rebate for eligible work £ unquantifiable ..
- Insufficient voluntary drivers available to allow the imposition of new ‘interpretation’ of Section 19 permits by Traffic Commissioner will cause services to be cancelled if unable to use paid drivers. I do question how a Traffic Commissioner is able to apply this new interpretation/ opinion without judicial review.
- Limitation on fares charged- also created by the imposition of new ‘interpretation’, will cause very low user number services to be even more unsustainable than they currently are. Nevertheless they are of vital importance to those people who rely on them. Local government budgets will probably not allow additional grant funding to support these services.
People wish to live independently at home for as long as possible. It is Government policy through the NHS and deliverers of social care encourage home care. Extra Care or supported housing is being encouraged for all sectors depending on income. It is also helped by the use of Disabled Facilities Grants to make their homes suitable for home care.
It is NOT the wish of any sector to make these people prisoners in their own homes. Our charity has had to change its services because many of our passengers requested more trips to places that provide lunches – pubs, restaurants etc. This is because they do not wish to eat every meal on their own from a foil container heated in a microwave. They wish to talk to people for their own health and well being. Our services are vital for them to keep well.
Examples of our passengers’ comments
- A lady rang me to say she noticed one of our buses passing by her window and asked ‘Can I use it?’. In reply I said well it is for anyone who is unable to use an ordinary bus if they cannot get to the bus stop. She replied by saying she was over 75yrs in a wheelchair and sitting by her window. I said yes you can. I will organise the bus to visit you and you can try it out. This lady was in tears and said she had not been out of her bungalow for over a year, This lady now goes out once or twice a week.
- A person rang to say he wanted to buy his grandmother a Christmas present and wondered if he buy her a voucher to go on the bus for the next 12 months because it is her great joy to meet the other passengers and have lunch and a chat. This person pays for ALL her journeys into our bank account by standing order to keep it topped up.
- Many times when the passengers book their journeys they ask about other people who travel on the bus with them. We always need to know who has gone in hospital or they have visitors who have taken them out. One person said you are the first person I have spoken to all week.
This service is vital to many peoples’ ‘Health and Well Being’. If our costs are substantially increased we will close and many people will be left as prisoners in their own homes. Community Transport is vital to many and is vital support to our local communities to enable them to visit places, have lunch, do their own shopping etc. We need help with raising funds not obstacles.
We need ALL political parties to support us in saying ‘Transport’ is vital to people being able to live independently in their homes for as long as possible and have a good quality of life. We you to help us by raising our profile nationally. We need you to request that ‘Lottery’ rules are changed so we can seek funding for revenue expenditure to stay financially viable. If we close through lack of funds either from various Local Authorities or grants ‘How will people visit friends, do their own shopping etc.’
Community Transport is NOT in competition with the private sector as the fares are subsidised by grants otherwise they would be too expensive. Commercial operators are not providing a door to door service and licenced ‘taxis’ are expensive in many areas due to costs. Wheelchair accessible taxis are not provided in sufficient numbers in all areas – the vehicles are higher cost, Taxi drivers do not all like helping wheelchairs to get into taxis and be safely secured in the vehicle. RURAL areas do not all have a local taxi service at all and become very expensive.
A trip to our local hospital by taxi if it has to wait is a minimum of £45 or if it does 2 trips is £60. The NHS is making centres of excellence so here a patient had an appointment in Plymouth Derriford NHS from Exmouth. The cost was £120 for a 7 minute appointment. This cannot be covered by the ‘attendance allowance of £33.
I have attached an example of our timetable and trips.
Thank you all for reading the evidence and listening to our representatives.
Chairman, Management Committee
Exmouth and District Community Transport Group
23 Hazeldene Gardens
Exmouth EX8 3JA