Hayfield Sustainable Transport Limited runs a pilot community transport service in Hayfield, Peak District, allowing a range of community groups to book minibuses.
Community transport operator Hayfield Sustainable Transport Limited (HSTL) provides community groups with access to minibuses without each group needing to own one themselves. This reduces the expenditure on transport for these groups and makes more efficient use of the shared asset. HSTL has two 17-seater minibuses.
The community groups that use HSTL’s minibuses are primarily from Hayfield and New Mills but they are also used by groups from across the High Peak including Glossop, Chinley and Whaley Bridge. Altogether, 73 different local community groups and schools have made use of HSTL’s minibuses over its 6 years of operation including: primary and secondary schools, guide and scout groups, disability groups, Women’s Institutes, sheltered housing groups, sports teams, football supporters, cinema groups and shuttles to country fares and other local events. A group of Manchester United fans living in the locality hire a minibus to travel to Old Trafford on Saturdays, they previously drove in 12 separate cars. This uses a minibus at a time when it would not otherwise be used by other groups. Some community groups make trips several times per week and others use a minibus on a one-off basis.
To use the minibuses, a group must register with HSTL and be a not-for-profit group or organisation. The groups provide their own drivers. Some drivers are happy to drive for other groups but that is arranged between them.
Bookings are made and paid for via a simple on-line calendar on the HSTL website.
This has recently changed to use the SuperSaaS scheduling system because it provides an API (Application Programming Interface) that enables the availability of the community minibus service and availability to be shared with other journey planning systems. This means that any future Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform will be able to incorporate the community minibuses into their subscription service.
A key safe is used for drivers to access the vehicle keys. A UK Fuels fuel card allows drivers to fill up the tank without having to claim the expense back, and mileage is logged using forms that are kept in each vehicle. The cost of the minibus hire is £7 per hour or £42 per day, plus 70p per mile.
In 2018, 300 separate vehicle bookings were made. With an average occupancy of 14, this provided 4,200 passenger round-trips during the year.
The service has enabled much higher team participation in sports events for the schools. A pupil who uses a wheelchair is now able to take part in field trips. A range of groups with disabled members have been able to organise excursions, and a cinema group has been created to travel to a cinema in a neighbouring village. Many of the groups using the minibus previously made their journeys in multiple private cars, such as sports teams and cinema group.
This project has made it possible to study how groups that use HSTL minibuses form and the barriers stopping others from forming. These learnings are being used to inform the development of IT systems that will make it easier for such groups to form. Barriers that need to be overcome include group organisers collecting money from passengers and not knowing the number of passengers they will get when they booked and paid for a minibus.
A further learning has been to obtain the assistance of the travel destinations to help form travel groups. In the case of the Manchester United supporters group, the local pub landlord suggested a group of friends shared the trip rather than drive separately. In order to fill the minibus, they asked the football club to contact their season ticket holders living in Hayfield to inform them about the group being formed for transport to home games. The community groups that use HSTL’s minibuses are taking control of this small part of transport provision and responsibility for covering its costs. The vision is for members of a community to be in control of developing other forms of transport. Systems are proposed that will enable people to combine their transport need without being part of a community group.
A micro car club is planned to work in combination with a minibus shuttle to the train station (in the next village). Rail commuters will be able to use the shuttle bus to get to the station and have shared access to a car at other times. This might enable them to sell the car they currently use to get to the station and make a step change in transport use.