UK Enterprise Awards 2021

240 | UK Enterprise Awards 2021 Best Specialist Community Transport Provider - Cheshire The aim of Halton Community Transport has always been clear and unwavering: to provide safe, affordable, comfortable and accessible transport to both individuals and community-registered groups with special transport needs in the Halton area. We speak to CEO, Mark Arnold, about the organisation and its unwavering loyalty to the cause. Halton Community Transport was initially formed in 1990 to provide safe, affordable and accessible minibus transport to people in Halton and the wider Liverpool City region who could not access other existing forms of transport for whatever reason, be that ill health, disability (mental or physical) or geographical isolation. By 1994, the scheme had grown sufficiently to warrant company status, so Halton Community Transport was formed as a non-profit making company limited by guarantee. As the organisation grew, it expanded its services to include minibus hire – and in 1999, after Halton Authority gained unitary status, Halton Community Transport amalgamated with Halton Dial-a-Ride and Women’s Safe Transport, both of which had been run by Cheshire County Council. Currently, Halton Community Transport has a fleet of 24 minibuses, the majority of which are fully accessible. It operates under Section 19 of the Transport Act, meaning its services are available to any organisation operating without a view to profit, concerned with: education, religion, social welfare, recreation and other activities of benefit to the community such as combatting social isolation and loneliness. “With 30 years’ experience and expertise in providing professional, prompt and efficient community transport, we are able to offer a wide range of options to match all needs and we continue to be at the forefront of Door-to-Door Dial-a-Ride service provision in the region,” says Mark Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of Halton Community Transport, speaking of the extended services. “Our service users range from young children to senior citizens. We also help disabled, vulnerable or isolated individuals or anyone who cannot access typical public transport for whatever reason, including “Public Transport Anxiety”, a new development following the Covid-19 pandemic.” The pandemic hit the transport sector hard and Mark tells us that many community transport schemes no longer exist as a result. Halton Community Transport made the difficult decision to close down and furlough all staff for six months at the start of the pandemic and then it has slowly and carefully reopened and restarted services as it has been safe to do so. “We are now almost fully ‘phoenixed from the flames’ of Covid-19,” enthuses Mark. “We are a cleaner, safer and smarter operation than we have ever been. Our on-fleet hygiene and Covid-19 safety protocols are the best in the public transport sector by a country mile and all of our team of staff and volunteers are double vaccinated!” Speaking of volunteers, the organisation’s dedicated staff base consists of 14 permanent staff and a team of 40 plus volunteers, who all play a vital role in Halton Community Transport’s operation. Regarding the future, Mark and the team have big plans for 2021 and beyond. “We intend to continue to grow within our expanding community,” he states. “However, we also need to face the challenge of electrification of our fleet of minibuses and the huge financial burden this will place on the charity, because unlike the big bus operators we will not get any Government assistance in our transition to ‘green fleet’ operation.” For all its community endeavours, Halton Community Transport was recently awarded the prestigious accolade of Best Specialist Community Transport Provider – Cheshire. Long may the good work continue! Contact: Mark Arnold Company: Halton Community Transport Web: Jun21203 Currently, Halton Community Transport has a fleet of 24 minibuses, the majority of which are fully accessible.