The Rolvenden Rocket: A community transport project managed by Rolvenden Parish Council
Wye Flyer project
The Wye Flyer project is designed to meet local demand and integrate the needs for a range of community transport services. The aim is to develop a self-sustaining operation with two high quality 15 seat mini-buses based in Wye. The project is a partnership between the Parish Council, Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School and The Friends of Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School. The Parish Council involved representatives of several potential user groups, including Brook Community Primary School to help shape the project.
What is community transport?
There are hundreds of community transport (CT) projects operating successfully around the country. Wealden Wheels is an established local example which serves the parishes of Charing, Chilham, Egerton, Pluckley and Smarden. Typically CT projects:
- help people to stay independent, participate in their communities and access vital services and employment;
- use and adapt conventional vehicles for social purposes /community benefit to support individual health and wellbeing and enable affordable social activities
- provide voluntary car schemes, community bus services, school transport, hospital transport, dial-a-ride, wheels to work and group hire services;
- rely on volunteers to drive vehicles, and provide management and governance;
- respond to unmet needs identified by and within communities;
- give priority to mobility of the most vulnerable and isolated - those whose needs are unmet by conventional bus services -
Crucially, CT projects are licenced to operate vehicles on a strictly not-for-profit basis, in compliance with a 1985 Transport Act Section 19 Permit. This permit differentiates CT from all commercial operators of public service vehicles.
The Parish Council envisages that the Wye Flyer will benefit four main user groups:
- 1. Children on educational trips led by Wye Primary and Brook Primary
- 2. Shoppers - social trips
- 3. Non-drivers - of all ages
- 4. Members of clubs and societies - of all ages
The Wye Flyer aims to fill the space between scheduled bus services and the specialist public transport services for e.g. Compaid and the Kent Karrier scheme funded by Kent County Council (KCC). The Kent Karrier provides a door-to-door dial-a-ride service to Ashford, but KCC restricts membership eligibility to those:
- with a medical condition that makes travelling on public transport difficult OR you live in a rural area more than 500m from a bus route or railway station;
- aged over 85.
The Wye Flyer project is pending the outcome of a grant application to Ashford Borough Council.