By Joanne Volpe, Leeds Programme and Partnership Manager, Centre for Ageing Better, Age Friendly City Programme

Centre for Ageing Better has entered into a multi-year partnership with Leeds City Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum to support the City in its ambition to be ‘the best city to grow old in’. Transport was identified as a strategic priority in delivering this ambition, and the partnership, in conjunction with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, has commissioned a new project to explore innovative approaches to delivering community transport.

Older people in Leeds have told us they find shorter journeys between their communities, or within their communities challenging, since most public transport comes in and out of the city centre, but doesn’t always connect the areas between.

When they want to visit families they need to rely on lifts, taxis (where they can afford them) or don’t go at all.  Journeys to medical appointments are even more difficult, and some older people miss appointments due to transport difficulties.

Community transport offers a unique opportunity to address some of these challenges in. Typically, community transport providers such as volunteer car schemes or mini busses, offer flexible, door-to-door services and where possible will try to provide accessible transport solutions. However, available community transport is generally under-utilised and provision across services uncoordinated, with vehicles often being left idle for long periods of time

The partnership has employed transport consultants STC to undertake a study assessing the supply of community transport vehicles to better understand how much and when they are currently used, where there might be potential to organise them differently and more efficiently and where there are gaps in provision that could be filled.

They will also consider whether it would be possible to use technology to enable better management, scheduling and booking of community transport across the many providers and schemes that currently exist.

This work will culminate in the development and prototyping of a collaborative community transport business model, which the partnership ultimately aims to seek funding for.

If you have any questions about the study please contact [email protected]  

For updates on this work follow @ageing_better or sign up for Centre for Ageing Better’s newsletter on their website  Or, look for updates from Leeds Older People’s Forum and Leeds City Council’s website.