Launch for new Barr bus service

Rural Connect is being run by South Ayrshire Community Transport
Rural Connect is being run by South Ayrshire Community Transport

After a gap of more than ten years Barr village has a scheduled bus service again.

Launched on May 1st, the new three-day a week service is part of a wider project called Rural Connect being run by South Ayrshire Community Transport (SACT) which is bringing wheelchair accessible community transport to rural South Ayrshire 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 and Barr Community Council. The scheduled bus service being delivered by SACT is part of a public social partnership between SPT’s Community Transport Division and the Scottish Government.

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.

“There have been a number of false starts and hiccups along the way, so it is wonderful to finally see the bus on the road.

“As well as the bus itself, Rural Connect is supporting the employment of a full time clerical officer (coincidentally a resident of Barr) and two part time bus drivers. During the time when the bus is not being used for the Barr – Girvan service, it will be available for other community transport work. We are so grateful to our funders and to everyone who has supported us in this venture”.

Anyone looking to use the services of any of SACT’s vehicles should contact Catriona Haston or Mike Ross on 01292 270864 or email mike@sacommunitytransport.org or catriona@sacommunitytransport.org

Chairperson of South Ayrshire Community Transport, Stuart Lindsay commented, “SACT is a relatively young organisation that has been growing steadily. This new project is a real boost and will give us 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. We see this as a vote of confidence in what SACT is doing and we look forward to working closely with the communities that are involved. We will capitalise on the project by continuing to develop our relationships with local authorities, health services and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. The assets that Rural Connect allows us to buy, coupled to these enhanced working partnerships will give us the foundations for providing sustainable community transport services into the future.”

Graham Dunn of SPT’s Community Transport Division stated “SPT are delighted that South Ayrshire Community Transport (SACT) have secured substantial funding from LEADER. This funding along with match funding from SPT, Barr Village and North Carrick Community Benefit Company provides considerable investment to enable SACT to develop and deliver community and demand responsive transport services to the rural communities of South Ayrshire. 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.”