Travel is one of the more significant costs in the average household budget, deemed the ‘top spending activity’ according to 2017 ONS data. Transport provides an essential means of connecting us to our jobs, to meeting up with our friends and family, and to activities going on in the local community. Consequently, a lack of transport is also commonly recognised as a contributing factor to loneliness and social isolation, witnessed particularly in rural communities.
As Time Credits are exchanged for time-based, ‘experiential’ activities, as opposed to products, our team has long been interested in different ways that Time Credits could support access to travel and transport in the future. And while we are still a long way from being able to swap Time Credits for air travel or for taking the Eurostar, we are beginning to be active at the community level.
Here are a few of the innovative ways that Time Credits are helping to support access to transport in our programmes:
Volunteering with community transport initiatives
As part of the Buckinghamshire Time Credits programme, Michael earned Time Credits for volunteering as a driver with the charity Chilterns Dial-A-Ride (CDAR). The CDAR charity provides a door to door service with wheelchair access and trained drivers, for people who are not able to travel independently or use public transport as a result of age, illness or disability.
“I enjoy driving and meeting people, and feel that I am putting something back into the community!” said Michael. “As a volunteer it is very humbling and enjoyable to help others less fortunate than yourself. Earning Time Credits mean that I and my family can do more outings.”
Using Time Credits to access minibus driver training
In Carmarthenshire, a county in south west Wales where a large number of people live in rural communities, you can spend Time Credits on accessing minibus MiDAS training with the organisation Transport For All.
We have worked closely with Transport For All and their fleet of minibuses to develop and train volunteer drivers from a range of local groups e.g. sheltered and housing schemes. Having trained volunteer drivers within these groups enables them to sustain their activities and go on outings together. Groups that are part of the scheme rent a minibus for £1/mile fuel charge, and the volunteer drivers earn Time Credits for their time.
Spending Time Credits on local travel
- In Cambridgeshire, Time Credits can be used to access journeys via East Cambs Connect, a flexible minibus service run by Cambridgeshire County Council that connects all the local community to places, people and services.
- The best way to get around the capital is by… water! Time Credits members are snapping up the opportunity to take a trip along the river with MBNA Thames Clippers. At one Time Credit a voyage, we’ve calculated that almost 2000 trips were taken with Time Credits in the last financial year. Tickets are booked in advance via the online booking form.
- We said that there was no air travel available for Time Credits but that’s not strictly true. Last Christmas, Chorley Council offered two ‘flights’ on the town’s 44ft festive helter skelter in exchange for one Time Credit!