Saddleworth selected for Greater Manchester rural transport pilot

A project exploring how to provide rural communities with more effective, specialist transport links is to be undertaken in Saddleworth, Oldham.

Transport for Greater Manchester and Oldham Council will work together on the scheme after securing an £81,000 grant from the government’s Total Transport Pilot Fund.

The Oldham Shared Transport project will look at how existing bus and minibus services can be brought together to deliver more joined-up and efficient travel options in rural communities, which TfGM described as “often cut adrift from more concentrated transport services in busy town and city centres”.

TfGM’s demand-responsive services, including Local Link and Ring & Ride, and Oldham Council’s social services, special education and non-emergency patients’ transport services, will all form part of the pilot.

If successful, the approach would be rolled out to benefit other areas of Greater Manchester.

Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the TfGM committee, said: “Saddleworth has a population of around 25,000 people but is a predominantly rural area, and its geography is what makes providing effective specialist transport links a particular challenge.

“This is an issue that has become even more apparent in recent years as local authority budget cuts have started to bite, specialist services have become more disparate and diluted, and more and more people have started to fall through the gaps as a result.

“We hope this pilot will prove invaluable for some of the most vulnerable members of our community by addressing the piecemeal way that specialist transport services have evolved in our health and local authorities sectors.”

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