South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the announcement this week by Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown of a new £1 million community bus fund.
Ms McAlpine has made repeated calls for capital funding to help community transport operators buy new vehicles.
The announcement comes after an Inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee identified a lack of capital funding for fleet replacement as the biggest challenge faced by operators.
Until 2008 money for community transport came from central government but it was then switched to local authorities some of whom have failed to pass it on to the volunteer providers.
The new £1 million fund will be jointly administered by the Community Transport Association (CTA) and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).
Ms McAlpine Said:
“I am delighted by the Minister’s announcement. Dumfries and Galloway has one of the highest numbers of community transport charities in Scotland because of its rural nature so there are several vibrant organisations in the region that stand to benefit from this fund.”
“These services represent a lifeline for many of my constituents who are older people without access to a car or public transport by helping them to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.”
“This positive response from the Scottish Government will be heartening for many of the hard working and inspiring volunteers who dedicate their time to keeping local community transport services running in these tough economic times.”
“I welcome the fact that this government have been able to continue their record investment in transport in the face of Westminster’s swingeing cuts to Scotland’s revenue and capital budget in recent years – an investment that has seen the number of bus journeys made in South Scotland increase.”