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England's first wheelchair accessible car club launched in Bristol

Posted: 16 Apr 2015

Wheelchair users in Bristol can now use a fully wheelchair accessible car by the hour in a new scheme from Bristol Community Transport (a part of HCT Group) and Co-Wheels, using an on-street bay provided by Bristol City Council.

The scheme, which is the first of its kind in the country, brings together existing on-street car club technology with a fully accessible vehicle, helping Bristol’s wheelchair users to get out and about.

“We’ve been providing wheelchair accessible vehicles in Bristol for 30 years, but people have to book over the phone during office hours and come out to our depot to collect the car” explains Jan Jones, Senior Manager at Bristol Community Transport. “By teaming up with Co-wheels and Bristol City Council, we can provide a wheelchair accessible car in the heart of the City, making a real difference for service users.”

Smartcard access and a dedicated on-street bay, located on Salisbury Road in Redland, Bristol, allows 24 hour access to the car with no need to pick up keys. The car is available to book in advance or up to 15mins before use through the Co-wheels online booking system.

Steve Bullock, a scheme member says “Wheelchair accessible vehicles have made a world of difference, it has enabled me to retain some independence and get to destinations that I could not on public transport, and using taxis would be too expensive.”

Under the new scheme, members are charged on a simple pay-as-you-go hire basis, with an hourly rate plus a small mileage charge, with insurance included. Any current member of Bristol Community Transport can access the scheme, and can also access the whole Co-wheels Bristol fleet of fully electric, hybrid and low emission vehicles located throughout the city. New members of both can access the car if they meet eligibility requirements.

Pierre Fox, Co-wheels Director, said “Co-wheels is thrilled to be partnering with BCT to provide the country’s first Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle operated under a car club scheme, allowing unprecedented access and availability to the public. Bristol has always been a city of transport innovation, and this is a big step to opening up mobility and transport options for residents, adding to our growing provision of a wide range of vehicles to suit all needs.”

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m delighted to support this enterprising new scheme, which will benefit not only wheelchair users but their friends and family too.

“Bristol is a city in which we celebrate and champion the diversity of our population, a city in which we believe all can play an active role in the life of the city – and convenient accessible transport has a key role to play in this.”

Councillor Mark Bradshaw, Bristol City Council’s Assistant Mayor for Transport, said: "It is a priority to see accessible and affordable transport in place for all Bristolians. This dedicated car club is another first for Bristol and is down to partnership working. The Council is glad to have played a part and we want this new wheelchair accessible car club to flourish and become well-used.

“Car clubs are going to increase in importance as word gets out that they are an effective and flexible way of accessing a car or van when you need it."

For more information about the car club scheme, please call Bristol Car Club at Bristol Community Transport on 0117 9020 157