Community action groups from across Tayside and the UK have joined forces in Aberfeldy in an effort to solve ongoing transport problems in rural Perthshire.
Volunteer bus services, car share schemes and traditional transport links were all up for discussion at the drop-in event organised by the Rural Wisdom Project and the newly formed Upper Tay Transport Group.
Jeff Turner, from Northumbria, who has been researching rural transport challenges with Newcastle University, was among the speakers.
He said the increasing centralisation of services, such as health care, was having a major impact on places like Aberfeldy, hindering people who don’t have a car of their own and leading to a brain drain of younger residents.
“There’s a noticeable minority of older people who are not going to be able to drive,” he said.
“What do we do about that minority that will always exist?
“And also, how do young people get to things?
“Young teenagers and those going to further education – who want to be independent – how do we build transport systems for them?
“One of the main reasons young people move away is that they need to be nearer employment or college – and then they don’t come back.”
Mr Turner said residents were increasingly having to come up with their own solutions to plug gaps in local authority provision.
“What we really need is buses but councils have less and less money to subsidise them so what we’re seeing is communities running their own bus services,” he said.
“We’ve also got more volunteers with their own cars in community car schemes – there’s one in Aberfeldy to take people down to Perth Royal Infirmary and Ninewells.”
Cindy Brook, from the Upper Tay Transport Group, said she was hoping to bring different groups together for the wider good.
“What we want to be able to do is join up the groups to create a sustainable transport system for the area,” she said.
“We’re looking at a mix of statutory and volunteer services supported by car share schemes.
“We don’t have all the answers but we’re trying to get all the organisations to work together to make it better for everybody and this has been a very useful meeting.”
The Public Transport Unit from Perth and Kinross Council, the Royal Voluntary Service and TACTRAN which promotes the Perth and Kinross Lift Share Scheme, were also in attendance at Thursday’s session.