Talking to Totnes - Learning from Bob the Bus
There are two main strands to the Inclusion+ project: i. talking to the community ii. find out how similar schemes run.
To do this, I looked to exemplar community transport schemes across the country. Helpfully one of the best is in our neighbouring county Devon, in Totnes.
I spoke to Lyn Price, Bob the Bus's co-ordinator. She told me more about the scheme...
Bob the Bus has been running since 1997 and has taken the shape of a community bus (Town Bob), a scheduled service (Stoke Bob) and self-drive hire bus (Hire Bob).
Lyn provided a lot of knowledge about the intricacies of running a community transport scheme. Bob the Bus is now run as a charity and Lyn commented that "we’ve been sustainable through grant funding, but it would be nice to be independent."
Some challenges we are likely to face (specifically related to a community bus scheme):
Training drivers and getting reliable volunteer drivers
Deciding on the type of service - scheduled routes require different permissions to a hire service
Making it easier for people to use - ring and ride, online membership to use, access for disabled people
Lyn also gave me some useful tips on running a successful community transport scheme:
Even though Bob the Bus services a community with ~20,000 residents, at the heart of both Inclusion+ and Bob the Bus is a commitment to improving the infrastructure for local residents and to provide a new service which helps people get where they need to be.