Mr Brett said;
“The 11 community transport organisations provide an invaluable service to communities across Northern Ireland. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of these providers, South Antrim Community Transport, who like the others operate in very isolated and rural areas, supporting elderly and vulnerable residents who are heavily reliant on their provision.
Central to their work is the ‘dial-a-lift’ programme funded primarily through the Department for Infrastructure. The funding for the dial-a-lift service provides in the region of 200,000 journeys annually, many being for important healthcare appointments or food shopping.
The threat of lost funding for this core service would be detrimental to rural communities and the financial sustainability of the providers.
In these rural areas, the public transport network simply does not exist to come anywhere close in adequately replacing the potential loss of this provision and the needs of its vulnerable and elderly users.
I would urge the Department to work cooperatively with the Community Transport Association in finding a solution which will protect this crucial service.”