All aboard!

Volunteer Ned O'Keefe helps passengers off the bus in Milngavie

Volunteer Ned O’Keefe helps passengers off the bus in Milngavie. Pic: G63

AN award-winning community transport initiative is giving Croftamie folks weekly access to shops and services in Milngavie that would otherwise be hard to reach.

Organised and run by Croftamie Community Trust and the community council, the ‘shopping bus’ leaves the nursery at 10am every Thursday and picks up at the main bus stop as well as special pre-booked pick ups for less mobile passengers from the village.

Half an hour later, the bus drops passengers in Douglas Street, Milngavie – close to all the main shops and services such as chemist, bank, optician and post office – then goes on to Tesco. Passengers have an hour or so before the bus leaves around 11.40am.

And for those who want to continue into Glasgow city centre, Milngavie station is just a stone’s throw from Tesco…although they need to find alternative transport home.

The return trip costs a mere £2 with the additional costs of the service covered by grants, donations and fundraising by the villagers themselves.

“We did a survey back in 2010 and found that the lack of transport was making people think about leaving the village, so we decided to do something about it,” explains Anne Ewing of Croftamie Community Trust.

Community workers helped the Trust acquire the required licence, work out running costs and source a community-accessible minibus.

“We were dealing with a whole host of different departments of the Council and the main thing was getting them all to agree,” adds Anne.

Which they did, but not long after the Trust arranged to use the nursery minibus, Stirling Council sold its minibus fleet. Undeterred, the Trust found a private local contractor and driver and subsequently picked up National Park community initiative and volunteer team awards.

The sixteen seater minibus – usually driven by Alan Palmer – usually carries six or seven passengers and a volunteer who helps folks on and off the bus with their bags and makes sure everyone is OK.

A team of six or seven volunteer helpers work on a  two monthly rota. “It usually works out that we do a day every month or so,” says local helper Ned O’Keefe who’s on duty when G63  goes along for the ride.

“And although it’s generally elderly or less mobile villagers that use it, anyone without their own transport or who just wants to save some money…or the environment…is welcome aboard,” says Anne.

Extending the scheme to other areas is a possibility but, as Anne points out, “we’d need to work together to look at costs, capacity, timings and other aspects of the service or maybe look at ways to get people from surrounding areas to Croftamie, perhaps using volunteer drivers.’”

• Anyone wanting to pre-book a pick up in Croftamie, volunteer help or wanting more info  should call Anne on 07837 720772.

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Author: editor

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