A Draft Community Transport Strategy For the New Millennium - Surrey County Council
H Pope, Halcrow Group Ltd, UK
This paper draws on the work carried out by Halcrow, on behalf of Surrey County Council, in the development of a Draft Community Transport Strategy for the new millennium. The strategy builds on the previous strategy set up in the early 1990s.
The development of a new strategy required a full understanding of existing service provision, to be fully inclusive and to foster ownership of the strategy between users, providers and supporting agencies.
A review was undertaken of Community Transport services in the county which included dial-a-ride, voluntary car share groups, and community bus schemes. To understand how schemes worked in detail, three schemes were examined in greater depth. Interviews also took place with Social Services, the Primary Care Trusts and Rural Transport Officers.
The review of the current provision provided the consultants with an understanding not only of the successes but also of the problems and issues that exist in respect to Community Transport in Surrey. Three key issues have been identified. Firstly, the problems that the voluntary sector has in recruiting new volunteers will have a growing impact on community transport provision for the new millennium. Secondly, due to the wide range of service providers and lack of integration between them, there is often duplication of provision together with under-utilised resources, whilst at the same time some demands are unmet. There is therefore an opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided. Thirdly, due both to demographics trends and the emphasis that central government has placed on reducing social exclusion there will be increased demand for community transport services.
Consultation with stakeholders was a key aspect of the study, a series of workshops were set up in order to build up an understanding of the issues and problems, and identify solutions for the future, with the final round giving stakeholders an opportunity to give feed back on the emerging draft strategy.
Key issues that were highlighted during the consultation were: access to health care, integration and standardisation of services, efficient uses of existing resources, recruiting volunteers and information and publicity. Solutions that were put forward for these issues were largely based on the integration of services.
Drawing on the work that had been undertaken as part of the review and from the stakeholder workshops an emerging strategy was formed. The key element of the emerging strategy was the setting up of ?Local Transport Co-ordination Centres? that would bring all community transport services under one organisation. This would include provision for day care centres, social services and non-emergency health care transport.
The Centres would also be involved in the ?conversion? of conventional dial-a-ride services to demand responsive services that are available to other socially excluded groups. These services should become deliberately more intertwined with conventional bus services. Thus the County Council?s public transport staff would be expected to work closely with the ?Local Transport Co-ordination Centre? to identify those areas of the County where demand responsive service provision could take the place of conventional fixed route operations.
It was suggested that a board would be appointed to develop each of the centres. This board would include representatives from the Local Strategic Partnership, PCT?s, Social Services, the districts, boroughs and user groups. This would mean that all those organisations that are involved in providing community transport services would be working together to provide a co-ordinated, integrated approach to community transport. These organisations would be able to benefit from economies of scale, and therefore free up resources to provide better levels of service and a greater number of trips.
There was positive feed back from the stakeholders in respect to the emerging strategy and suggestions were made in respect to the number of centres.
The study assessed a number of strategic options that looked at ways of introducing the ?Local Transport Co-ordination Centres? to Surrey these ranged from between one central and five ?Local Transport Co-ordination Centres?.
Throughout the study the Steering Group took a key role in providing guidance and local knowledge, and formed a sense of ownership in the strategy.
Association for European Transport