A £58,000 award from the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) Open Fund will subsidise up to 13,000 day saver bus tickets until early 2021.
Scottish Borders Council applied for the funding after Borders Buses offered free travel to NHS workers through the initial lockdown period, a scheme that was well received by healthcare employees.
Now, working with Borders Buses, local bus operators and NHS Borders, the council’s passenger transport team will be able to offer a 50% discount on bus tickets bought locally by NHS staff who present their NHS ID.
Andy Carter, director of workforce at NHS Borders, said: “We are pleased to be working alongside Scottish Borders Council, local bus operators and Paths for All on this pilot project. The scheme will benefit our key workers who rely on buses for essential travel.
“This initiative will make journeys more affordable and is a greener option for people, as bus travel is a sustainable form of transport.
“Our staff like everyone else do need to follow measures to reduce spread of the Coronavirus so we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that it is vital we all continue to follow the latest Scottish Government and Transport Scotland advice whilst Coronavirus is still circulating in Scotland.”
Councillor Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Infrastructure, Travel and Transport, said: “We were delighted to work with our partners NHS Borders and local bus operators to secure this funding which will support key workers in the health service to use sustainable transport at a lower cost over a six month trial period.
“We are also pleased to be the 200th award made by Paths for All from their Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Fund and look forward to seeing more projects of this kind supported in the coming years.”
Lee Young, operations manager at Borders Buses, said: “Along with other bus operators in the Borders, we have been proud to transport NHS Borders staff to and from work throughout this pandemic.
“It’s great news NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council have secured funding to offer those NHS Borders staff traveling from the Borders 50% off their single and return tickets. We hope the pilot is a success and it encourages more people to safely and responsibly travel by bus.”
The grant is one of the most recent awards to be issued from the SCSP Open Fund which has now funded 200 projects since 2018.
The fund is managed by walking charity Paths for All and supported by the Scottish Government’s Active Travel budget.
Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All said: “We are delighted that this most recent Open Fund grant will support NHS workers travelling by bus over the winter months.
“It’s great to see a project like this which not only reduces daily car journeys, but also supports NHS staff at this crucial time. I’d encourage other public, community, and third sector organisations to apply for a grant from our Open Fund. With the expertise and guidance of our team, we can help them make their active and/or sustainable travel project ideas a reality.”