The Gala Wheels scheme aims to improve transport in the Central Borders by allowing disabled people to hire one of two specially-adapted vehicles. The Galashiels-based project is receiving£57,121 over three years from the Scottish executive?s Rural Community Transport Scheme.
Ms Boyack said:
?I am delighted to be able to launch this scheme which will help ensure that disabled people and those with mobility problems have better access to transport.
?Gala Wheels will help people to adopt a more independent lifestyle and play a more active role in community affairs by allowing them to go out when, where and with whom they wish.
?Easy access to transport is vital to avoid the problems associated with social exclusion and this is particularly true in rural areas. The Scottish executive is committed to achieving fair and equal access to transport for all.?
Volunteer drivers will be available as part of the scheme to allow users to hire the vehicle without being dependent on family or friends. Alternatively, users will be able to bring their own driver.
The Citroen Dispatch 1.9 Turbo Diesel vehicles have been adapted to give easy wheelchair access and can carry up to two wheelchairs, plus a driver and up to five passengers.
Gala Wheels is registered with Scottish Borders Council?s Social Car Scheme. Journeys which fall within this category are subsidised to 27p per mile, up to a total of 80 miles. Hospital inpatients, day patients or patients attending NHS outpatient clinics are entitled to ambulance transport and these journeys are not subsidised.
The vehicles can be driven by anyone aged between 25 and 75 who has undergone a familiarisation test and has a clean driving licence.
The Order of St John also provided a£20,000 grant to the project.
Other projects in the Scottish Borders supported by the Executive?s Rural Community Transport initiative are:
Scottish Borders Rural Partnership ? Rural Community Transport fieldworker -£46,590
Scottish Borders Rural Partnership ?Transport survey -£20,000
WRVS (N & NE Berwickshire) ? Social car scheme -£42,554
WRVS (Ettrick & Lauderdale) ? Voluntary car scheme -£49,883
Roxburgh Association of Voluntary Service ? Purchase and operation of two accessible MPVs -£52,785
The Scottish executive?s Rural Community Transport initiative has supported 100 projects in rural communities across Scotland.