Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said that community transport schemes across Northern Ireland need security around funding so they can continue their vital services.
Kellie Armstrong said: “Right across Northern Ireland there is a network of community transport schemes, mainly in rural areas, that provide an essential service for our community. Several hundred thousand journeys each year are taken through these essential schemes and they have proven their worth.
“For many years I was employed in community transport and know the pressures the services are under. Pressures from never having sufficient funding against increasing demand for the service. We are fortunate that there are a large number of people who offer their time on a voluntary basis so that others can play their party in their community.
“Many users of the schemes have no viable transport alternative to get them to medical or other appointments. Without community transport, many vulnerable people would be housebound and isolated from society.
“In recent years there have been funding cuts resulting in the loss of some services and unless the Executive recognises how important these schemes are further cuts are likely. Most funding comes from the Department for Infrastructure or the Department for the Environment. Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Other departments, such as Health, are served by the transport schemes due to the large number of people using them to attend medical appointments. It is important that a joined up funding approach is taken in future so that this vital lifeline is safeguarded for the coming years.”