Community transport group stride ahead with Barr-Girvan bus launch

The launch of the Barr to Girvan bus service.
The launch of the Barr to Girvan bus service.

Well the sun certainly came out and shone upon the launch of the new Barr to Girvan bus service on May 1st.

As well as on a happy bunch of locals, an MP (now a candidate), several councillors, a couple of cyclists (yes, the bus will take bikes), two dogs (yep, the bus will take them too) and a few people actually wanting to go to Girvan on the bus!

Special thanks to the crew in Barr Community Stores and cafe who provided some lovely coffee and cake and blew up all those balloons! After more than ten years without a public transport service, the new three-day a week service is part of Rural Connect being run by South Ayrshire Community Transport (SACT). bringing wheelchair accessible community transport, in some areas for the first time.

The funding for the project has been provided by Ayrshire LEADER, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), North Carrick Community Benefit Company (NCCBC) and Barr Community Council. As well as the bus service between Barr and Girvan, there will be a wheelchair accessible minibus and wheelchair accessible people carrier stationed in Maybole for the use of Carrick residents.

SACT’s Community Transport Coordinator Catriona Haston said “This has taken well over three years of research, planning, community engagement, persuasion and sheer hard work from SACT, SPT’s Community Transport Division, South Ayrshire Council and the Barr community. It is wonderful to finally see the service on the road. When the bus is not being used for the scheduled service, it will be available for regular community transport work so please contact us on info@sacommunitytransport.org or phone us on 01292 270864.

Chairperson of South Ayrshire Community Transport, Stuart Lindsay commented, “This new project is a real boost and will give SACT the momentum we need – not only to provide the services that are defined in the project but also to build even stronger working relationships with public and community sector partners.” Graham Dunn of SPT’s Community Transport Division stated “SPT are delighted that SACT is delivering this service. This initiative highlights what can be achieved through partnership working between key funders, local communities and statutory partners including South Ayrshire Council and SPT”.

Claire Monaghan, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Communities said, “We’re committed to supporting ways of enhancing life in rural communities and are proud to support this new project to link-up our rural towns and villages. Improved public transport is one way of bringing people closer together, and this new venture promises to bring real benefits to Kyle and Carrick. The Council is looking forward to developing this partnership in future.”

Corri Wilson, recently MP and now SNP Candidate for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, said: “I am extremely pleased to see this initiative take off. I have been working with the Barr community for many months now on their connectivity issues, and I am delighted that, through joint working across the voluntary and public sector, and engaging with the local community, we have been able to provide this valuable service. Not only will it allow Barr residents a route to the wider world, it will also give people from Girvan and beyond greater access to this beautiful area, thereby improving the long term sustainability of the village.”

South Ayrshire Community Transport are also one of the latest successful participants in LaunchMe, Scotland’s only social enterprise accelerator programme.

Eight ambitious social enterprises - ranging from Scotland’s first all-female construction company to a project tackling dementia by language teaching - went through a rigorous selection process, including pitches to an expert panel, to be chosen for the unique programme.

Delivered by social enterprise development agency Firstport and funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, with additional support from the Scottish Government, LaunchMe supports the most ambitious, early stage social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding of up to £25,000, participants can also apply for funding of up to £100,000 to match any investment they secure during the three-year programme.

The only programme of its kind in Scotland, LaunchMe has already helped 14 social enterprises on their mission to scale up, secure investment and increase their social impact.

The programme has attracted the attention of the Scottish angel investor community and has successfully brokered a number of investment deals worth over £500,000, bringing the total amount of funding raised to over £1 million.

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are excited to reveal our latest amazing group of social entrepreneurs with the vision and ambition to change Scotland for the better.

“Over the last two years, we have shown that social enterprises have the potential to achieve scale and bring about more social and economic benefits to communities across Scotland.”