Bristol Community Transport (BCT), part of the HCT Group, is pleased to announce that a record number of not-for-profit organisations in and around Bristol now hire its minibuses.

Services like those offered by BCT are vital in ensuring that community groups in Bristol and the surrounding area can get out and about and aren't isolated because they can't afford their own vehicles. In challenging economic times, the fact that 600 groups now use the minibus hire service clearly indicates that it is more valuable than ever.

Jan Jones, BCT's Senior Manager, explained: "Purchasing and running a minibus is a costly exercise for community groups. Many charities and other organisations now recognise the advantages of hiring a minibus, or minibuses, as and when they need them rather than purchasing their own minibus and then underutilising it. By hiring from BCT, groups avoid the initial capital cost of purchasing a minibus as well as the costs of insuring and running their own minibus, and hvaing to ensure the necessary safety checks are undertaken. Instead, those hiring minibuses from BCT incur costs only when they need a minibus."

Jon Ducker, Visitor Services Manager for the National Trust at Tyntesfield, went on: "We use BCT minibuses, and drivers, to supplement our own minibus. Many of the visitors to the Tyntesfield estate have difficulty getting between the various buildings and places of interest on the estate. We have our own minibus driving a circuit around the estate, but on dates when we anticipate being busy, we hire in an additional minibus from BCT to help us meet demand. This provides us with maximum flexibility for minimum outlay."

Some member groups use the BCT minibuses on a regular basis, such as lunch clubs and elderly peoples' groups accessing day centres, whilst others may use them for special events like youth group holidays once or twice a year. The service is very flexible, with BCT vehicles being available during evenings and weekends as well as normal office hours.

Unlike many commercial operators, the majority of BCT vehicles are wheelchair accessible. The BCT minibuses are also insured and licenced to allow not-for-profit organisations to charge their members a fee for using the services which is often not possible when hiring from commercial operators.

In addition to operating a fleet of 33 vehicles (with more on order), BCT also provides training for minibus drivers. This help to ensure a quality standard for minibus driving. BCT has a pool of volunteer drivers willing to drive minibuses for BCT member groups, and also operates Bristol Car Club which hires out wheelchair accessible cars.

BCT is part-funded by Bristol City Council, part-funded by the organisations that use the vehicles, and part-funded by commercial bus services operated by CT Plus.

For further information on BCT, please visit www.bristolcommunitytransport.org.uk or call 0117 902 0157.

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