‘Community transport schemes run by volunteers perform a critical role in many rural areas,’ said RCCE Chief Executive Nick Shuttleworth. ‘They plug the gaps where conventional bus services don’t run and in doing so give less mobile members of the community a lifeline to local shops, healthcare and other services.’
Originally set up as a millennium project, the Flyer has since more than proved its worth having carried nearly 19,000 passengers to date. The Treasurer, Brian Collings said, ‘Our old bus had given years of good service but was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain. Its smaller seating capacity often meant we couldn’t meet demand and two trips to pick up passengers had to be made. Our new bus is a little bigger and we hope will give many years of service.’
The bus currently operates 3 mornings a week in the villages of Danbury and Little Baddow with a less frequent service also covering Bicknacre. ‘Joining the scheme is simple and free,’ Brian Collings added, ‘passengers just need to sign a form. Booking is not necessary, just turn up at a timetabled location or wave the bus down. It is sometimes possible to pick up / drop off at passenger homes too, if it does not unduly affect the timetable.’
They also run monthly trips to Maldon, various social and recreational trips throughout the year, and trips to the Co-op in Chelmsford are planned. The bus is available for hire by local groups too. All drivers and everyone involved in the running of the scheme are volunteers, and are always on the look-out for new recruits – passengers and volunteers!
At £1.50 return, ticket sales only cover half of the running costs of the vehicle. The committee work hard to fundraise and receive council grants, donations from various local groups and often passengers make a small donation when they pay their fare. This money is banked into a Sinking Fund for future bus replacement.
For more information about the service, or becoming a volunteer visit the Danbury Flyer website www.danburyflyer.org.uk