It was great to have such a strong turnout and to see so many of our members together in one place for not only our first in-person gathering since Lara, Nicola and I joined CTA, but our very first in-person event since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
We heard from a diverse range of speakers on the biggest issues of the day for Scotland’s Community Transport sector, from driver shortages and volunteering to Electric Vehicles and new technologies. Their presentations are now available to download from the right-hand side of this page.
I was pleased to be able to share analysis and insights from our new More Than a Minibus report, as well as our new map of the sector in Scotland. We also heard from Bettina Sizeland, Deputy Director for Bus, Accessibility and Active Travel at Transport Scotland about how much they value their partnership with us at CTA and the amazing work that our members do across the country.
For me, there were four big takeaways for CTA, Transport Scotland and all of our delegates from all of the day’s presentations, discussions and questions:
Funding is our #1 priority: Many members said they were concerned about future funding for our sector, especially with inflation so high and the cost of living crisis worsening. Our report’s #1 recommendation – which argued that the Scottish Government and local authorities should protect funding for Community Transport and deliver fair, multi-year funding which contributes to core operating costs and matches inflation – really resonated with delegates
Demand and the need for Community Transport is rising: With the world opening up after the pandemic and yet more bus service cuts being threatened across the country, it’s clear that many of our communities are being failed by commercial bus operators and our public transport network. Several delegates talked about the damage proposed cuts would have where they live. CTA, government and funders alike need to focus advice, resources and support on helping charities and community groups to overcome significant barriers to set up new Community Transport schemes
We need to think differently about volunteering: Our speakers provided lots of useful hints and tips for improving your ‘volunteer offer’ and thinking about the ‘volunteer lifecycle’. We all need to think more creatively about how to recruit and retain volunteers in a changing environment. We need to challenge ourselves to reach out to under-represented communities and move out of what might be our ‘comfort zone’ to tackle racism and to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. Volunteering should be for everyone!
Now’s the time for climate action: We heard from several speakers about the exciting opportunities – as well as some of the challenges – for our sector in making the journey to net zero. Transitioning to electric fleets is just one part of the picture. There’s so much potential for Community Transport operators to help people and communities to reduce their own carbon footprint. We can learn from what’s worked well elsewhere to develop new walking, cycling or car club projects which reduce car use, eliminate air pollution and make our cities, towns and villages better, greener places to live
For those of you who made it to Perth, I hope you found the day as energising and thought-provoking as I did. If you were a delegate, please complete our quick survey here. We’d appreciate your feedback.
I know that many CTA members were disappointed to be unable to join us on the day, either because we’d sold-out our tickets ahead of time or because they couldn’t travel to attend. That’s why we’re sharing our speakers’ presentations here and why we’ll be continuing our programme of monthly online member meetings very soon with new topics and new guests. So watch this space!
You can also relive some of the day’s discussions on Twitter via the hashtag #MoreThanaMinibus.
If you’ve an idea or a suggestion for a potential theme or speaker for a future event – or a takeaway from our Scotland Conference which you’d like to share with me – I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.