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Rousay community transport helping to connect islanders to services - and to each other

Date: 15 February 2024

Photo of the Rousay vehicle heading off on a day trip

Community transport in Rousay is helping people access vital services and build important social connections.

That’s the feedback from Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust, who’ve used Community Transport funding awarded to them by Orkney Islands Council to transform their community electric car into a tailored door-to-door service.

The grant allowed the Trust to employ two drivers, who between them now offer trips on and off the island. On Mondays and Wednesdays the Trust offers trips to the Shop, Post Office and surgery for residents.

“Twice a month, we also take the car to Kirkwall for people to access some of the services that are not available on our island,” says Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust Manager Stuart Williams.

“Prior to the grant, the Development Trust already owned an electric car which was introduced as a ‘Car Club’ where residents could use it - but it was poorly utilised.

“So we moved to a ‘dial-a-trip' model, and we’re delighted to receive our Community Transport Grant from Orkney Island Council which we used to bolster that service - it meant we could offer more trips.

“Our two drivers started in September 2023, and we’ve been really delighted with the uptake, with many people who do not have a car telling us they are now finding they can get out and about more.

“The Kirkwall trips are full on almost every occasion.  For the residents who take part they are developing a new ‘social club’ and enjoying a change of scenery.  The drivers are also able to help those who are less ambulant and can really offer a ‘door to door’ service.

“The success of the service has meant we are looking at sourcing a larger ‘midi-bus’ which would give us seven seats (or five with a wheelchair) which would mean that more people would be able to enjoy the service, and we’d like to expand the day-trip element.”

The Council invited communities in 2023 to apply to its Community Transport Small Grant Scheme aimed at improving connectivity in some of Orkney’s most fragile and remote communities.

There was a fantastic response from community groups, with the Council awarding £40k to six initiatives including three completely new projects. This saw community transport services extended in Hoy, the continuation of the out of hours boat service between Papa Westray and Westray, supporting of services in Shapinsay and new community transport services established in North Ronaldsay, Rousay and Stronsay.

Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor David Dawson, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see the success of this project in Rousay and the support awarded to Trusts which will result in a number of community transport projects in some of our most fragile island communities.

"The initiative is clearly delivering tangible benefits to residents including social opportunities which is so important in island communities where we need to rely on one another.

“It’s a great example of what the funding sets out to achieve – bespoke solutions by communities and for communities to keep folk connected to services and each other.

“I heartily congratulate everyone involved and look forward to seeing other community transport projects go from strength to strength too.”

Demand for the fund in 2023/24 outstripped the budget allocated, so successful projects have received match funding from the Council’s Sustainable and Green Transport Fund. This is a special pot of funds, earmarked for improvements to local transport such as additional services, bus shelters and community transport projects – and fed by bus passenger fare income from the Council’s subsidised public bus services.

OIC’s Community Transport Small Grants Scheme offers funding of up to £10,000 per project - you can read more about the scheme at For more information or to apply, email  

  • Summary:

    Community transport in Rousay,  supported by funding from OIC, is helping people access vital services and build important social connections.

  • Category:
    • Transport
    • Community
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