Community transport operators in South Gloucestershire have received the keys to their new accessible vehicles from officials at the West of England Combined Authority and South Gloucestershire Council.
Each of the three community transport groups in the area received two brand new Peugeot Boxer minibuses to use for their local services.
The new minibuses are equipped with Euro 6 engines and will replace some of the oldest vehicles in the operators’ existing fleets, helping to reduce harmful emissions, as well as lowering fuel consumption and reducing ongoing maintenance costs. Each new minibus has been liveried with the branding of the individual operator.
The new vehicles complete a fleet of fifteen minibuses provided to South Gloucestershire’s community transport operators. The council secured £740,000 of funding for the vehicles in 2019, which comes from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority.
The funding has been used to purchase six new Mercedes Sprinter minibuses which were delivered to the operators at the beginning of March 2020, three Nissan E-NVs (electric vehicles) that were delivered in August 2020, and the delivery of these remaining six Peugeot Boxers completes the handover.
Representatives from Kingswood Community Transport, Green Community Travel in Yate and Four Towns and Vale Link Transport in Thornbury were joined by West of England Mayor Dan Norris and Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby Savage, for the official handover of keys to the new vehicles.
West of England Mayor Dan Norris said: "I am so pleased to hand over the keys to three brilliant local groups who are at the heart of their communities: Kingswood Community Transport, Green Community Travel in Yate and Four Towns and Vale Link Transport in Thornbury. These new, modern minibuses will mean local people who might not otherwise be able to, can visit family and friends, get to doctors appointments and pop to the shops. And I’ve even heard they offer some mystery tours! What’s even better is that the new minibuses are more environmentally friendly too. So it’s good for the community and good for the planet."
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council Cllr Toby Savage said: "We are delighted to present our local community transport operators with these new accessible vehicles. The operators are all ‘not for profit' organisations that have been impacted by reduced income and service during the coronavirus pandemic, so these new vehicles come at a much-needed time and will help them continue to provide their much-valued service to South Gloucestershire residents and help keep our rural communities connected.
"These new vehicles have a lower carbon footprint than those they replace, so also support our climate emergency goals to help improve local air quality."
During the pandemic community transport groups have continued to provide a limited service for essential shopping, medical appointments and emergency deliveries of food parcels and medicines.
Nigel Davis, CEO of Four Towns and Vale link Community Transport, said: "The two new fully accessible minibuses, in addition to the vehicles already received, will help us to increase our activity as we gradually come out of lockdown. We will continue to reach out to all sectors of our community, whilst operating in a more efficient manner the vehicles will also help the environment by lowering our carbon footprint. Our grateful thanks on behalf of our service users to South Gloucestershire Council and the West of England Combined Authority for their continued support in a very difficult economic climate."
Jenny Bright, Travel Manager at Green Community Transport, said: "The previous year has been really tough for everyone, we were so pleased to be able to support our local community and South Gloucestershire Council using the other new vehicles to deliver emergency food parcels. These two new vehicles have come at a perfect time for us as restrictions start to ease and the service is getting busier again. They mean we can help even more people! We are always conscious of our environmental impact and the new vehicles are going to really help reduce our emissions. We are so grateful to South Gloucestershire Council and the West of England Combined Authority for their continued support and their work to enable us to get these vehicles, a huge thank you. Look out for Luna and Sirius on the road and give us a wave!"
Aaron Breddy, Operations Manager at Kingswood Community Transport, said: "We are extremely grateful to South Gloucestershire Council and the West of England Combined Authority for these brand new accessible minibuses, on top of the vehicles they have already acquired for us. They will be crucial in enabling us to better serve our local community and giving those who need our help a safe and reliable transport alternative. Along with the electric vehicle we were lucky to receive last year, these vehicles will help reduce our carbon footprint as well as reduce our maintenance costs which is always a great help. We can’t wait to get them out on the road!'