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Older people and local bus services: Case study booklet

Still Waiting case studies

Foreword Local bus travel is a lifeline for many people in later life. It helps them remain independent by enabling access to local amenities and services, including shops, GP’s practices and social clubs. It is also an important way of keeping in contact with friends and family, helping to tackle social isolation and loneliness. While the National Concessionary Travel (NCT) scheme - the free bus pass for the over 60s - has been incredibly popular, many older people who live in areas ill-served by regular buses, or who have mobility problems, are unable to take advantage of this policy. They are forced to pay for community transport services, such as charity-run and volunteer dependent minibus and car-lift schemes, to make journeys essential for their health and wellbeing. Worryingly, many of these lifeline transport services are under threat of closure due to a lack of statutory funding from local and central government. Age Scotland has spoken with older people across the country about their experiences of local bus services. Crucially, we have found that the impact of poor bus transport is felt in both rural and urban Scotland and, increasingly, the NCT scheme is failing to meet the needs of the country’s older people. We have documented their accounts here.


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Case Studies The Monday Club, Carradale, Argyll


Bo’ness Golden Oldies, Falkirk


Jacqui from Nitshill, Glasgow


Helen from Dechmont, West Lothian


Margaret and Bill from Melrose, Scottish Borders


Deborah from Aviemore, Highlands


Tina from Kingussie, Highlands


Dalintober & Millknowe Monday Seniors Social Club, Campbelltown, Argyll


Agnes from Leith, Edinburgh


The Tarbert Soup Group, Argyll


Pat from Inverness, Highlands


Elizabeth from the Black Isle, Highlands


Nan McKay Hall, Glasgow


Irene from Pilton, Edinburgh


Jane from Tomintoul, Moray


Margaret from Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway


Portree Lunch Club, Skye


Michael from Stockbridge, Edinburgh



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The Monday Club, Carradale, Argyll Carradale is a small town about 15 miles from Campbeltown in Kintyre. The Carradale & District Seniors Group meets at the town hall every Monday. One of the members, Margaret, says “Getting to the Monday Club means everything to members – it’s the highlight of our week! We can socialise, catch up with friends over a cup of tea and just have fun. “It might not sound like much, but it really helps keep us going the rest of the week and we look forward to it every time. Suitable transport means we can go to important appointments or to community events like the turning on of the Christmas lights. “The town is spread out, so the local community transport service is vital for picking everyone up and taking them to the hall. Unfortunately, the driver is currently off on long-term sick leave, so the group is entirely dependent on local volunteer drivers from the Red Cross to ensure everyone can attend.”

A lot of the discussion these days is about keeping older people ‘interested in things’. We are interested in things – we just can’t get to them!” The Red Cross volunteer at Carradale, Mary-Margaret, uses her own car, although it isn’t wheelchair accessible or large enough for multiple pick-ups. “That means people can only be collected one or two at a time”, says Mary-Margaret. “As soon as everyone has gathered, it’s almost time to go home again. The members might, therefore, only get ten minutes to catch up with friends they haven’t seen all week, so people don’t have the pleasure of taking their time for a proper chat.” Another member, Val, says “I have relatively good mobility so I can walk from the local health centre back to my house outside the main town. However, I’m partially sighted and have hearing loss, and the 2

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walk takes me down the local ‘B’ road, with no pavements and cars speeding past at up to 60 miles per hour. It can be treacherous when it’s cold, wet and icy. I don’t have a choice, though – it’s either sit around town all day or pay £30 for a taxi to come from Campbeltown to take me home.”

Community transport is all about supporting older people to remain active, healthy and involved in their own communities. It’s well known that healthy lifestyles and social interaction can have hugely beneficial effects on older people, and the members of the Carradale & District Seniors Group are clear that they see the contradiction between what people are told to do and how investment is directed towards supporting them to achieve this. Val says “A lot of the discussion these days is about keeping older people ‘interested in things’. We are interested in things – we just can’t get to them! “Quite often, older people in Carradale are told that all we need to do to enjoy a better quality of life is move to Lochgilphead. We wouldn’t dream of moving from here. It’s safe and has a warm and wonderful community. Lochgilphead is 70 miles away, and I don’t know anyone there!” 3

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Bo’ness Golden Oldies, Falkirk David, Eliza and their friend June, live in Borrowstounness, to give it its proper name, a coastal town in the Forth Valley. David has diabetes and asthma, and suffers from a kidney complaint that affects both his legs and his mobility. That doesn’t stop him being a leading light in the Bo’ness Golden Oldies Club. Once a month, club members get together for tea and sandwiches, with a raffle and entertainment provided to make it a real social occasion.

For me it’s about the only chance I get to go out and do something enjoyable.” Recently, getting to the club has become a big problem, with First Bus making a change in the route of a key local bus service. “The no.5 bus used to go past Castle Hill where the club meets,” says June. “Now First is only running it along the main Dean Road.” Eliza has noticed a change in club attendance as a result. “Several people who relied on that bus have had to stop coming.”


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This change is just the latest in a process that has been going on for several years. “There used to be a town bus service that went around the estates,” says David. “But that was stopped a couple of years ago.” For a time, the Club ran a mini-bus to collect people, however this became prohibitively expensive. “There’s a mini-bus run by the church which I use to get to and from services,” says Eliza. “And as far as I know that’s the only community transport we’ve got around here.” The issue is much bigger than access to the Club. “With my health as it is I need to go to appointments several times a week,” says David. “If it’s to the hospital I will get collected, but in order to get to the health centre I have to pay for a taxi.” “If you want to visit someone in hospital it’s not easy,” says Eliza. “They’ve recently changed the bus service to Forth Valley Royal Hospital so that it no longer drops you off at the door – there’s now a bit of a walk involved, which is a problem if your mobility isn’t good.” Better transport for the town’s older people would make a huge difference. “If it was easier to get to the Club we might even be able to do it more often than once a month,” says David. “For me it’s about the only chance I get to go out and do something enjoyable.”


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Jacqui from Nitshill, Glasgow Jacqui lives in Nitshill, Glasgow with her daughter, who is her carer. Jacqui is in a wheelchair and because of her disability finds it very difficult to access public transport.

It is a lifeline, but they are constantly living under the threat of closure. I don’t know what I would do if they weren’t here, as I couldn’t afford to take taxis and I would have to depend on my daughter for everything.” Jacqui says “Most buses don’t have a drop down step to help me get on with my wheelchair and, despite it being the job of the driver to help me get on the bus, I am often left to fend for myself. Nowadays I wouldn’t even try to get on a bus without my daughter being there.”

Jacqui relies on South West Community Transport to help her get out and about. She says “It is a lifeline, but they are constantly under the threat of closure. I don’t know what I would do if they weren’t here, as I couldn’t afford to take taxis and I would have to depend on my daughter for everything.” 6

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Helen from Dechmont, West Lothian Helen lives in the West Lothian village of Dechmont, near Broxburn, with a population of under 1000 and no meaningful amenities. To get out and about, whether visiting friends or attending medical appointments, Helen is dependent on the local bus service and the generosity of friends and family who can give her a lift in their cars.

Helen says: “I don’t want to be a prisoner in my own home as I get older but the current bus system doesn’t allow me to do many of the things I want to do. I depend on my brother to help me. “I would love to go out and visit friends or go to the cinema but the buses I need are too infrequent and often don’t turn up at all, so I won’t risk waiting for one in the cold and dark. Mostly though I worry about the future if my mobility continues to slow down. “I now struggle to get to a bus stop and even when I get there I know that drivers won’t help me on and off buses. I have watched as older passengers have become so embarrassed at the time it has taken them to get on the bus that they have given up completely and sent the bus on its way. That’s not right.”

I don’t want to be a prisoner in my own home as I get older but the current bus system doesn’t allow me to do many of the things I want to do.” 7

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Margaret and Bill from Melrose, Scottish Borders Margaret lives with her husband Bill in Melrose and is his full-time carer. Both of them are in their eighties and rely on the local WRVS service to get out and about. Margaret uses the service to make sure she and Bill can get to medical appointments, the GP’s surgery, the dentist and to go shopping. However Margaret is reluctant to call on the WRVS to help her get to leisure appointments, so has given up her genealogy hobby and Bill has quit watching Gala play rugby. Margaret says “I really wouldn’t want to bother WRVS to help me and Bill unless it was for something very important like a medical appointment, they will have lots of other people they need to help as well.” When asked why she doesn’t take commercial buses, Margaret says “Buses do pass along our street, but the services are so infrequent and almost never turn up when they are timetabled. To be honest, I don’t feel I can rely on it. In fact the service is withdrawn completely when the school run is on and it takes hours and hours to travel just a few miles down the road as it stops at every village. I’d rather just leave it.”


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Buses do pass along our street, but the services are so infrequent and almost never turn up when they are timetabled. To be honest, I don’t feel I can rely on it.” Both Margaret and Bill value the local WRVS service but if they need a journey for a medical appointment at short notice they are either forced to use a taxi, which can be expensive, or cancel the appointment. A more developed and flexible bus service would make a huge difference in helping them get out and about. “If I knew the WRVS had more drivers available, who could take me out to get my hair done or meet with friends, then I would definitely use the service. It would be great to get out the house more often” says Margaret.


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Deborah from Aviemore, Highlands Deborah is in her 50s and has cerebral palsy. Nevertheless she volunteers in a book shop in Kingussie helping adults and young people with learning difficulties. She can get the train from Aviemore to Kingussie and can get help and assistance to ensure she gets a seat, but recently the platform this train arrives at has changed and she can’t get off there. She now has to go on to the next stop and the railway company pays for an accessible taxi back to Kingussie. Deborah gets Mobility Allowance so she doesn’t mind so much paying for taxis herself, but laments the fact that there is not a lot of assistance forthcoming at bus stations, saying: “As a member of the public, I should be able to use public transport. I have a right. You go to an airport and there are trolleys, and people to help you – why not at bus stations?”

As a member of the public, I should be able to use public transport. I have a right.” She has recently joined ‘Where 2 Today?’ and found that community transport is a big help. Planning her journey in advance is essential so she is not able to do anything on the spur of the moment. The whole process of making a journey is quite a challenge, to ensure the support is in place. For someone who is actively looking for work in a rural community, her options are severely limited by a lack of available, suitable, affordable and direct transport.


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Tina from Kingussie, Highlands Tina, who plays the keyboard, lives just outside Kingussie. She would like to get out and play more, but she needs a lift and someone who will help her set up too. She says: “I go to the lunch club if I can get a lift and I play my keyboard there – and the ‘Where 2 Today?’ scheme and volunteers have become invaluable in helping me do this.”

Just being on the bus was a social occasion. I miss that side of things. There should be link ups, I can’t be the only person around here who can’t drive.” Living outside Kingussie with no transport at all on her road, there is no way Tina can use her bus pass. There used to be a bus once a week where she could meet up with people. “Just being on the bus was a social occasion. I miss that side of things. There should be link ups, I can’t be the only person around here who can’t drive. “The shop in the village delivers food to me but I like to get out and about. I would like to go out just for the sake of going out, to go to the hairdressers or the dentist. I always bump into people I know in the village and the community car can do that for £3; there and back in an hour. I can get the car to Kingussie but I would like to go to Aviemore and Newtonmore too. A taxi to Aviemore is £20 each way. The community car takes you there for between £7 and £8 and the driver accompanies you round the shops to give you a hand. In the summer time though, it would be nice to just wander around.” Hospital transport is a real problem for Tina and not being able to get to appointments threatens both her short- and long-term health. She says: “I tried for two days to book hospital transport and couldn’t get through. The community car can’t take me, so I just had to cancel my appointment. I’m just stuck here now.” 11

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Dalintober & Millknowe Monday Seniors Social Club, Campbeltown, Argyll Sarah, of the Dalintober & Millknowe Monday Seniors Social Club, says “The club is the highlight of our week, and it gives us all the chance to catch up with friends, enjoy some music and singing. The best part is that it helps motivate you when you’re at home the rest of the week.” About a dozen women attend the club, and the party atmosphere makes it clear just what it means to the members. And it’s obvious that transport has a vital role in making the day possible. While most of the members are entirely reliant upon community or commercial transport services, it is only the community services that can ensure that older people are supported to get exactly where they need to go, when they need to get there.

Local commercial operators only service specific routes and for those who aren’t able to walk far, where the buses stop can make all the difference. Sarah says “Without community transport, you can be at the mercy of whether or not your bus stop happens to be convenient for where you’re going. For example, the health centre in Campbeltown is at the top of a hill, but the bus stop is at the bottom! “School buses are also part of the transport set up in the town but when the schools close for the holidays the buses stop too. Another problem is that both the school and commercial buses aren’t accessible – they have three high steps going up to them so it can be impossible for an older or disabled person to get on and off.” Clare, from Argyll Voluntary Action – Kintyre, says “Some of the ladies in the group aren’t able to attend the Monday Club since the Ring & Ride community transport service was reduced and they’re only able to attend if someone can be persuaded to bring them. 12

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“As with many places on the peninsula, we’re heavily reliant on volunteer drivers from the Red Cross to support people in getting where they need to go.”

The lack of options has an impact for the wider community; if people aren’t able to get out, they can’t use the local shops and services, so if the concessionary bus pass was extended to community transport it would certainly benefit the local economy as well.” Sarah adds, “We often receive hospital appointments for Glasgow and Paisley for first thing in the morning. They will actually ask us why we can’t travel in at that time given we have a Paisley postcode. They just don’t understand that we’re 130 miles away and that it would take three hours to get there on the bus. It just wouldn’t be possible.” The Dalintober & Millknowe Monday Seniors Social Club in Campbeltown supports Age Scotland’s campaign to extend the concessionary bus pass to community transport operators.


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Agnes from Leith, Edinburgh Agnes, 66, lives in Leith in Edinburgh. She suffers from a number of health conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis, has had a hip replacement and has another operation coming up soon. All of these health issues severely limit her ability to get out the house. Agnes says: “I have been fortunate enough to survive a heart attack, breast cancer and tumours over the years, so being able to get a little help getting out and about is vital to me. But still I couldn’t tell you the last time I was able to get on a bus. My sister is a tremendous help and she comes once a week to help with my shopping even though she moved to Glasgow a while back. “About two years ago, during a visit to the GP, a very thoughtful nurse suggested to me that I should get in touch with a local club. I


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have to say I have never looked back and I go every Friday - unless a medical appointment gets in the way of course. The club comes and picks me up at my door, which is an incredible help as I wouldn’t be able to get there on public transport.”

Being able to get a little help getting out and about is vital to me. But still I couldn’t tell you the last time I was able to get on a bus.” “I would like to go out more often. I do sometimes feel very isolated. Some days I cry, but you’ve just got to be strong and put it in the back of your mind - but it is horrible when you can’t get out. “I do use taxis for medical appointments at the hospital, but they come at a price, so it is not really an option for me for social things. I really think that if we could use our bus passes on community transport, it would make a great difference, not just to me, but to all older people”.


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The Tarbert Soup Group, Argyll The Tarbert Soup Group is one of a number of groups using the village hall for activities aimed at providing a key focus for various sections of the community. Meeting every Monday, members have the opportunity to enjoy a hot lunch with their friends and, for many, it’s the only company they will see all week. David takes members to and from the group and, as they don’t have access to a community transport service, it can take anything up to one-and-a-quarter hours to collect all the members. This means that sometimes people only have a few minutes with their friends and peers before it’s time to head home again. “There are four members who must have a front seat space, which limits what we can do each day”, says David. “If we want to organise trips, we need to book a minibus from Campbeltown, which is a two hour round trip and there’s so much demand on those you need to book months in advance. It makes it extremely difficult to arrange something special.”

Before, drivers would let people off at their homes but now they don’t for ‘health and safety’ reasons. Surely it’s a bigger risk leaving older and disabled people stranded in the middle of nowhere?”


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Project Co-ordinator Heather highlights the Soup Group’s recent trip to Portavadie. “It took a lot of organising but the group still talks about it. It was such a highlight for them and felt so special. Many of them said how they hadn’t been there for years, and it gave them such a boost. These things should be easier to do for the older and disabled people in our community.”

Heather says, “The local commercial bus operators’ services aren’t co-ordinated, so even if you’re able to get into town, you’re unlikely to be able to make an onward journey as you’ll have already missed the bus. Of course, parts of the area here are very remote and rural, so many bus stops are totally inconvenient for most residents, especially if they can’t walk far. Before, drivers would let people off at their homes but now they don’t for ‘health and safety’ reasons. Surely it’s a bigger risk leaving older and disabled people stranded in the middle of nowhere?” Extending the concessionary bus pass to community transport providers would enable the Tarbert Soup Group to provide an expanded service to more members, meaning they could enjoy the benefits of being active in their community. However, it wouldn’t only be the Soup Group which would benefit; the local Youth Group would also be able to make use of a minibus and take part in activities and sports in the area. David says “We’ve started having combined activities between the two groups, and this has had a profoundly positive effect on intergenerational relations in the community. More responsive transport links would make a huge contribution to sustaining the invaluable work that’s gone on here. That’s why the Tarbert Soup Group is supporting Age Scotland’s campaign.” 17

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Pat from Inverness, Highlands Pat, and Saphie the chihuahua, are regular visitors to Highland Shopmobility in Inverness. Pat likes to get into town at least once a week, however she would like to be out and about a lot more often - not just for shopping but also for exercise. “There is nowhere to go for a walk where I live and to get to a nice place would cost £6-7 each way for a taxi, so I don’t get as much exercise as I would like” says Pat. “I used to visit the nursing home every other week to take the dog round and meet the residents but I can’t do that now. In Inverness there are a lot of buses but I find that many of them are not accessible. I take taxis now because mothers with prams kept asking me to move from the disabled seats on the bus. I can only use buses with low entrances that can drop to kerb level, so I can be waiting a long time for a bus that I can get onto.” While she could do her shopping online, or maybe someone else could do it for her, Pat says that it is important that she does it herself as this gives her life variation, adventure, privacy and independence.


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I might do more, or be more spontaneous if I could afford to use taxis, but I don’t like to plan ahead too much because of my health” Shopmobility offers a transport service to pick people up from their home or the nearest bus stop, provides volunteers to take them round shops and the transport drops them back again. Because of a lack of funding there is now a registration fee and a ‘voluntary donation’. Bernie from Shopmobility Highland says: “The cost is £8 return even though these people are entitled to concessionary travel. That is their lifeline, to get on the bus”. Pat says: “Now I just go into town once a week on the Shopmobility bus, I’d be totally lost without them. It’s not just the bus but the company while I’m shopping. I might do more, or be more spontaneous if I could afford to use taxis, but I don’t like to plan ahead too much because of my health”.


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Elizabeth from the Black Isle, Highlands Elizabeth lives among a warren of back roads on the Black Isle. Her house has an incredibly beautiful view and is adapted for people living with arthritis. There is no bus service on this road and Dial a Bus now has a fixed route and only drops her at the corner, which takes a good 5 minutes to get to. She says: “I could go on my scooter but there is nowhere to leave it. I can’t walk back with two bags because of the crutches.”

What little transport there is takes her to Inverness but she would also like to go to Dingwall, the nearest town and Fortrose where her GP practices. Dingwall has the nearest library with large print and audio books, a hairdresser, a hydrotherapy pool and smaller shops like butchers, bakers etc. Elizabeth loves art and being creative, attending a spinning and weaving group in Dingwall once a month. She says: “I am reliant on friends to give me a lift but I don’t always want to ask for help. I still 20

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go to some National Association for Decorative and Fine Arts classes, but again I rely on lifts from friends. And I had to give up the arts class as I didn’t wan’t to inconvenience my friends and it was too far to get a taxi.” “The worst thing of all was losing my driving licence, due to glaucoma - and with it went my independence. It’s such an enormous difference now to when I had a car and could visit friends and go to the shops. I have been to Culbokie (4 miles) once on my scooter but it is a single track road with no pavement for most of the way and a bit scary.” “Getting to hospital can also be difficult and expensive. They do provide a hospital car, but now I have to insist on one, not simply ask for one. You have to book before midday the day before and its really hard to get through on the phone” says Elizabeth.

People say that I shouldn’t live in the country if I want proper services, but why move? The government wants us to live in our own homes as long as possible and this house was built for people with arthritis so I could live here a long time without any adaptations.” Elizabeth really appreciates the Shopmobility transport and says that it is cheap for what it is, although it takes a long time. She says: “Having it free would make a huge difference. The fare restricts the number of times I can get out and the day doesn’t always suit. There is so much need to be included in activities and it would be nice not being asked to put your hand in your pocket all the time”.


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Nan McKay Hall, Glasgow “It’s a dead end here,” says Ann. Not the Nan McKay Hall, which is buzzing with activity and chatter, but the Pollockshields area around it. After waiting almost an hour in freezing conditions for her bus, her annoyance is understandable. Ann relies on public transport to get to the hall, which she attends four times a week. Although it’s only a few miles away she has to change buses to get there. Her bus is often late, and if she misses it she has to wait an hour. “I get the 38 service beside a vehicle showroom,” she says. “And because of the cars parked on the street there you have to go out onto the road to be seen by the driver, which is really dangerous.”

The free bus pass is great in theory, but because the buses around here are so restrictive I end up spending a lot of money on taxis.” Hilda shares Ann’s frustrations about the neighbourhood. “There’s no doctor’s surgery or pharmacist around here so we need good transport,” she says. “After a hip operation, my husband has to attend appointments at the Southern General and the Victoria Infirmary. It takes two buses to get to the Victoria, and after the bus to the Southern drops you off, it’s still quite a walk.” The limitations of local bus routes and timetables aren’t her only concerns. “Now some of the buses only take 16 passengers, so you can find yourself standing for the journey unless someone is kind enough to offer you a seat. And sometimes you have to compete with lots of schoolchildren to get on.” “They call this the forgotten scheme,” says Rita. “The route of the 121 bus used to include the Southern General and Victoria, but no longer.” Getting to the Southern General just a couple of miles away, which she has to do regularly because of her osteoporosis, can take up to two hours. “If you miss the bus and have to wait an hour, that can be your whole morning taken up.” 22

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Shopping is another big problem she says: “The buses are so restrictive that we have to take taxis. “Sometimes we go to Braehead as it’s the easiest option, even so close to the centre of Glasgow.” Ann, Rita and Hilda have few alternatives to public transport. “There is a community shopping bus,” says Hilda. “But it’s quite a limited service and I don’t use it.” Would they value better access to community transport? “Definitely!” says Rita. “The free bus pass is great in theory, but because the buses around here are so restrictive I end up spending a lot of money on taxis.”


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Irene from Pilton, Edinburgh Irene is a busy woman, she volunteers and sits on various boards and groups. Travel to this work is straightforward as she can take a taxi and claim expenses, although the initial outlay can sometimes be inconvenient. Others in the Forth area of Edinburgh do not find it so easy. Irene says that many don’t get out from one week to the next as the public transport only runs along the main roads which many struggle to get to. “I have only used my bus pass twice. Cars are often parked at bus stops so I can’t get on and then there are often baby buggies in the wheelchair areas who may not want to move” she says. Irene points out the importance of being able to attend community groups that provide food, company, information and classes in literacy, computing and finance - all the things that keep people healthy and less of a cost to health and social services.

They have to realise that good accessible transport will keep people out of hospital. It’s going to be a saver. People are getting older and if nothing is done there will be a lot of isolated people stuck in houses on their own.”


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Jane from Tomintoul, Moray Jane lives in the highest village in Scotland and on the road that generally closes first when the snow comes, but it is not the weather that makes her life difficult. “After I lost the car I felt hemmed in for a while, trapped. I am very independent and don’t like asking for a lift. There is one bus a week to Keith, one a week to Elgin and Dial a Bus Monday and Friday. I would like to go shopping on a Saturday with everyone else” she says.

There is a lot to do in the village but Jane finds it frustrating not to be able to get to the nearest town, Grantown on Spey, where she has an art class. Because Grantown and Aviemore are in Highland and Tomintoul is in Moray, there is no transport to Grantown. The train to Aberdeen takes about 4 hours when Aviemore is only half an hour away.

Having a bus pass makes no difference at all to me as I can’t use it.” “If there was just a link to get to Grantown, I would then be in Highland and could get a bus to Aviemore. Having a bus pass makes no difference at all to me as I can’t use it.” 25

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Margaret from Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway Margaret lives in Dumfries, just 500 metres away from a main road with two buses an hour going both into and out of the town centre for most of the day. Unfortunately she is hardly able to walk and suffers from severe osteoarthritis in her hands and fingers so she can’t use a wheelchair. She has two of her own mobility scooters, a large one for use in good weather and a smaller one that she had hoped to use to access the bus when the weather was inclement. The fact is she almost always has to use taxis – due to nonaccessible public transport and lack of community transport in her part of the town. The Dial a Bus service that used to operate out of a resource centre a couple of miles away has closed down due to a lack of funding and the boundary of the other one covering Dumfries is a mile away from her home. Furthermore, the buses with adjustable ramps that do pass the end of her street are so restricted in terms of space that she is unable to manoeuvre even her small scooter into the area reserved for them. Margaret says she is very isolated as a result. Even though she lives fairly close to the town centre she was only able to use her larger, outdoor scooter a couple of times last year to get to the bank because of the weather. She says: “I have a bus pass but it’s of virtually no use to me. I’ve spent most of 2012 sitting at home waiting to die.”


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I have a bus pass but it’s of virtually no use to me. I’ve spent most of 2012 sitting at home waiting to die.”


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Portree Lunch Club, Skye Mary, Eric and Catherine attend the Portree Lunch Club every week and depend on the volunteers driving the Skye Old People’s Welfare minibus to do so. As well as attending the lunches, Jim is one of 40 volunteer drivers of the Community Transport minibus. Mary and he like to go to the Skye Accordion and Fiddle Club some evenings, but have to drive or depend on lifts to be able to go. It costs between £15 and £20 each way in a taxi.

Because the buses mainly service the schools, there are no buses in the evenings, the last bus being just after 5pm.” There is a small local bus that runs around Portree on weekdays which is very useful for Mary, however this does not operate at the weekend. She says that she’s maybe lucky as friends who live in Braes, just a few miles north of Portree, have no public transport service at all.


Still Waiting case studies

Michael from Stockbridge, Edinburgh Michael Watt, who has mobility problems, lives in sheltered housing in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area. The area is well served by public transport, and the concessionary bus pass is much appreciated by Michael and his fellow residents. However his wish to visit his brother in Morningside on a regular basis is hampered by the need to change buses at least once and then walk for some distance. To get there he has to take a taxi, which can be expensive.The local Dial a Bus service is popular with Michael and other residents, but with demand for its services high, it is unable to respond as flexibly as he would like. “Over Christmas they were unable to help me, so I found it very difficult to see my brother” he says. Michael hopes that a successful campaign by Age Scotland will enable community transport providers to increase services to better meet his and others’ needs.

L-R: John Seery, Esther Parker, Michael Watt, Susan Hunter 29

0845 833 0200 Age Scotland Helpline 0845 125 9732 Age Scotland Enterprises 0845 833 0758


Age Scotland, part of the Age Network, is an independent charity dedicated to improving the later lives of everyone on the ageing journey, within a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland.     Registration Number: 153343   Charity Number SC0101

Still waiting case studies  

Part of the campaign to end isolation for older people in Scotland through the provision of better community transport. http://www.ageuk.or...

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