This morning we met with supporters of our campaign and prepared to brave the cold over enormous scones and a cup of tea (or coffee). Supporters turned up from local member group in Dumbiedykes, Gilmerton 60+ Group, Community Transport Association Scotland, Bus Users UK, Edinburgh Milan and the National Association of Occupational Pensioners.
We were really pleased that Keith Brown MSP and Minister for Transport and Veterans had agreed to meet us for the hand over. We headed over to the parliament and had a photo session with our supporters and were pleased to greet Mr Brown.
Our Head of Charity Services, Katie Docherty, and the Minister had a discussion about how community transport has had its profile raised and both she and the Minister agreed that the two debates in Parliament had been very good. The Minister pointed to the £1m fund for new buses which we have welcomed as great support for existing community transport organisations but will not help address areas with no exisiting access. However regarding our, and our thousands of signatories’ call for a better bus pass, the Minister said that this isn’t something they think is possible because of the cost of putting it in given how varied community transport is and that it is deregulated.
He then had a chat with the other members of the group about where they’d come form and what their experiences of public transport were.
We were then greeted by Sarah Boyack MSP who wrapped up and came out to especially to support our campaign.
Following this morning’s gathering, we can reflect on some significant achievements for the Still Waiting campaign since its launch in February. We’ve highlighted Community Transport as a vital part of the solution to isolation among older people, and got our MSPs and Scottish Ministers talking about it.
We’ve called for a more strategic approach to the future development of Community Transport – and the Scottish Government has commissioned research which should inform this. But there’s more to be done.
We’re yet to be convinced that the future of Community Transport is secure, as the Scottish Government has declined our proposal that it be included within, and part funded by, the National Concessionary Travel scheme. Age Scotland believes that the onus is now on the Government to put forward viable alternative proposals to ensure Community Transport services can meet increasing demand as our population ages.
A huge thanks to all the individuals, organisations and MSPs who have supported us up to this point, we will be entering 2014 still attempting to end isolation for older people.
You can still sending a Still Waiting campaign e-message to your MSPs today.
Take a look at our scrapbook and take a look back at all the peope we ve met and places we have been over the last year