A community transport service which operates in more than 60 towns and villages across south Norfolk and north Suffolk is set to expand after receiving a grant of almost £350,000.
Passengers, volunteers and trustees of The Borderhoppa are celebrating receiving £346,257 from the Big Lottery Fund which will enable the charity to buy two new custom-built buses with wheelchair access, create four new full-time jobs and secure employment for seven existing staff. The cash will also allow the dial-a-ride service to widen its catchment area to 70 parishes including Long Stratton, increase the operating hours from eight hours to 12 hours a day Monday to Friday, and a new Saturday service could be introduced.
The Borderhoppa provides transport for residents of all ages who have no access to a car or other public transport.
Trustee Geoff Doggett said the new Borderhoppa ‘plus’ project would help them improve their service by getting more people to medical and dental appointments, and would allow them to work with the jobs clubs in Diss and Harleston to transport jobseekers and youngsters.
He said: “This award from Big Lottery shows their understanding and desire to help us make a real difference to loneliness and social deprivation for those living in rural south Norfolk and north Suffolk.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon added: “People in rural areas often struggle without their own transport or a regular bus service. However, this boost to The Borderhoppa will provide better access to shops, jobs and amenities. This will help increase employment, lower rural isolation and grow the local economy.”
The Borderhoppa currently carries 20,000 passenger journeys each year to 64 parishes and brings an estimated benefit in excess of £350,000 to local market towns. The Borderhoppa plus project will increase that by 50 per cent over three years. The Diss Express campaign to buy a further new bus is still running.