Every year community transport operators provide 3.5 million journeys to more than 30,000 people across the country.
Community transport can often be an individual’s only option where they cannot use, or access, either public or private sector transport.
It allows people to go about their everyday lives, whether it’s getting the shopping in, attending a social event, accessing the local leisure centre or making the appointment with the GP.
It’s particularly important for the elderly and the disabled who make up 80% of the passengers, and who often require the service to help meet their health and social care needs.
Indeed, local volunteers in Greenock do a splendid job getting people from the Ardgowan Hospice to hospital appointments in Glasgow.
It has been forecast that community transport will be relied on more heavily in the future due to a dramatic rise in the number of people living over 65.
It’s important, therefore, that we plan ahead to ensure that we have a proper strategy in place which will continue to allow people to access this invaluable service.
Recently I held a transport workshop at Inverclyde’s municipal buildings to do just that. I was pleased that one of the outcomes of the meeting was that Inverclyde Council and NHS, Greater, Glasgow and Clyde agreed to a pilot scheme to improve access for people to local health services.
We also need to ensure that we give proper recognition and support to the dedicated volunteers who are a corner stone of the service.
The road ahead to improve community transport will not be paved with gold, but I believe if we get the appropriate resources in place we can provide a system that meets the needs of local people.