The waiting is almost over. Following our tremendously successful campaign to buy a replacement minibus for the old Mercedes minibus operated by Mearns Community Transport, we are delighted to say that the new Renault Master Minibus is scheduled to be arriving in Laurencekirk this month (October).

The new minibus was ordered in the final days of February from Minibus Options in Whaley Bridge, High Peaks. A few days later we were in lockdown, and everything stopped. The factory converting the vehicle to an accessible minibus was only able to resume conversion work and clear their backlog of work in July.

We have now received confirmation that the vehicle passed its IVA test by DVLA to confirm its specification as a minibus. The next step will be for it to receive its first registration. This is in hand.

The management committee have met with the Patient Participation Group at the Laurencekirk Medical Centre to assess the need for transportation of patients with appointments to travel to the centre, and this seems one of the possible functions of the minibus. With the current restrictions imposed upon us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of the minibus for this purpose seems possible. Many residents will be due to get their flu vaccination and all being well, we shall get a vaccination for the virus at some time in the future, and many people will require transport.

We do have a few volunteer drivers available, but we would welcome any volunteer drivers willing to help out with driving the minibus. All drivers will be required to complete the MIDAS (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) certification, which can be done with our own MIDAS driver trainer assessor. If interested contact Mearns Minibus Link on 07745 337382.

In view of the recommendations for travelling, we have instructed the manufacturers to install a screen to separate the driver from the passengers to allow for social distancing, and there will likely be a limit of three passengers allowed in the vehicle on each trip. The vehicle is fitted out to transport 2 wheelchairs simultaneously, with a tail hoist for loading and unloading.

The waiting is almost over, look out for the minibus in the area soon.

Allan Smith, Mearns Minibus Link

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