COPELAND Mayor Mike Starkie has cut the ribbon to mark the delivery of two new minibuses for the Muncaster Microbus scheme.
The new Mercedes buses were funded by the Department of Transport to help meet the needs for the community bus service in West Cumbria. The Muncaster Microbus serves residents of Bootle, Ravenglass, Waberthwaite, Eskdale, Seascale, Gosforth and Wasdale and runs a twice-weekly Whitehaven Wanderer service to the town, as well as other destinations, regular excursions and theatre trips.
Speaking at the launch event at Muncaster Castle, Mr Starkie said: "There's no end to the admiration I have for the volunteers who run this scheme.
"This project opens up some isolated rural areas, giving people the chance to visit places they may not ordinarily get to. It provides a lifeline for the communities it serves and I wish it continued success."
Founded in 1996, the Muncaster Microbus is a charitable community transport company operated completely by volunteers. The buses can be hired by groups for day trips. The Muncaster Microbus is a member of the National Concessionary Fare Scheme, so “NoW” free bus passes held by eligible people can be used on the Whitehaven Wanderer service. Bookings may be made by telephoning 01229 717229.
Nigel Entwistle, a director of Muncaster Microbus, said: "This community transport organisation can help close the gap that other transport organisations can't fill; offering a flexible, door-to-door service for the more rural, isolated communities.
"We are very fortunate to have two new buses, both funded by the Department of Transport, for whose generosity we are very much appreciative."
The delivery of the vehicles permits the development of the scheme and allow exploration of new route possibilities and services. The Muncaster Microbus hopes to work with local healthcare providers to help with patient transport and to expand the services to Egremont market and other local events.