Saltash Gateway CIC has been awarded a new minibus from the Department of Transport after successfully applying to a £25m government fund to provide over 300 community transport vehicles across the country.
The new vehicle will become the second ‘Saltash Hopper’, joining the original 16 seater minibus currently used to take local groups on day trips and to connect areas of the community without adequate public transport.
Tony Parry leads the Hopper volunteer team and applied for the grant on behalf of the CIC. He said: ‘We were thrilled to get the news that our bid was successful. We are all volunteers and run our various projects on limited funds so realistically would never be able to purchase a second vehicle, or buy a replacement when our ageing Hopper bus finally gives up. Now, we have a great opportunity to develop the community bus service and expand our routes and services.
Tony continued: ’We have just launched an initiative to encourage passenger use. On Good Friday we ran a free bus around the town, connecting the Pillmere estate, St Stephens, Waterside and the Town Centre. We are continuing the free trial on Saturdays in April and 2nd May, when it will connect to the May Fair at Warfelton. Shoppers at the next three monthly Food Markets will also benefit from a free bus service. We are on board canvassing passenger opinion and feedback to help us plan services in the future. We are currently considering how the Hopper can be further integrated with our various projects. A second bus will be a tremendous asset.’
Delivery date of the new bus has yet to be set by the DofT, and could be any time this year.