What works: Successful community transport

This short report takes a look at the enablers to success for community businesses in the pubs sector. It is part of a series of reports into ‘what works’ for community pubs businesses. It was produced by SERIO, an applied research institute at the University of Plymouth.

Community transport organisations (CTO) are created and run by local people who want to run transport services for people who are less mobile (e.g. young people and the elderly) and far from existing transport routes. Not only do they provide a valuable service, connect people with local services, they also help tackle isolation and promote social cohesion. Our study particularly focused on community buses, although other CTOs such as community ferries and trains operate in a similar fashion.

As well as running a financially viable service like commercial bus companies, their success relies on having a culture of change enabling them to adapt to the market and passenger needs. This, in combination with careful asset management makes them flexible and resilient. For CTOs, nurturing a range of partnerships with the community and other service providers is key. Relationships with advice-giving organisations (e.g. Community Transport Association) are especially important as these enable navigation of complex transport regulations.

Four business were studied in-depth: Barnet Community Transport in London, Cuckmere Community Bus in East Sussex, The Friendly Transport Service in Shropshire, and Tavistock Country Bus in Devon.