Community minibus replacement plans

The minibus has been off the road since December
The minibus has been off the road since December

Efforts are under way to raise funds to replace a local community minibus.

The vehicle, run by Mearns Community Transport (MCT), has been off the road since last December awaiting repair.

It had been hoped it would be operational again last month, but there has been difficulty finding the necessary brake part.

However, the bill is likely to be around £2500 and a local garage has been trying to source a second hand component.

MCT administrator Nikki Lorimer said: “The likelihood of the bus being repaired is slim.

“We are going to have to fundraise for a new one.

“Around 2016, the users of the transport service were saying ‘we need a new bus’ so they started to fundraise themselves.

“Since then, just over £7000 has been raised towards the new bus which is held in a separate account specifically for this.”

The aim is to buy a replacement second hand vehicle which is expected to cost up to £20,000.

The project has also received a donation of £6000 - leaving around £7000 still to raise.

Nikki explained: “We have been told we are looking at between £16-20,000 for a good second hand replacement minibus and to get it kitted out with the logo. So it’s about £20,000 all in.”

A grant towards the running of the bus is provided by Aberdeenshire Council but MCT is required to raise the remainder of the costs, made more difficult with the vehicle being off the road.

And concern is growing over the absence of the transport service.

Nikki added: “We are letting down the people who use it and the longer they are without a bus they will just make other arrangements.

“We need to get something in place for these people again.”

The minibus is used by community groups, with regular users the 50+ walking group in Laurencekirk, Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network, Laurencekirk Lunch Club and Young@Heart at Johnshaven.

Nikki added: “Part of going to one of these groups is being in the same bus together with all the camaraderie that goes with it.

“Anyone who would like to contribute to the cost of a new bus or do some fundraising activities is welcome to come into the office to see me.”

For further information email Nikki at mearnsct2@gmail.com or call 01561 377000.