Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC) provides accessible transport for people in the rural Highlands, where buses are scarce. With over 1,300 clients on its database, it is one of the most successful services of its kind in Scotland.

In BSCTC’s flagship project, the Car Scheme, volunteer drivers take clients to medical appointments, social engagements, leisure activities and out on errands. There’s also an assisted Shopping Project and a community minivan for group outings.

BSCTC is vital to people who otherwise would find themselves isolated and without easy access to health services and basic necessities but providing the service has become increasingly challenging as fuel costs rise.

Transport audit

We conducted a transport audit to assess the group’s day-to-day operations and help them reduce their primary running cost: fuel.

Our key recommendations included subsidised ‘FuelGood’ fuel efficient training for BSCTC’s drivers, and replacing their community minivan with a more energy efficient model.

‘FuelGood’ fuel efficient driver training

FuelGood fuel efficient driver training is subsidised by Transport Scotland. Up to eight people from an organisation can be trained in a day.

Each participant has a 50-minute, one-to-one training session with a qualified instructor. Trainees drive a set route: the first time, they drive as they would do normally; the second time, they are shown how to drive more fuel efficiently. Fuel usage (miles per gallon) is measured before and after.

Most participants see a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

We estimated that if BSCTC put its staff and volunteer drivers through FuelGood training, it could save as much as 15% per year on fuel costs, or the equivalent of two months’ worth of fuel, simply by encouraging its drivers to put the training into practice.

A number of BSCTC staff and volunteer drivers duly took part and their feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

As one BSCTC volunteer driver put it:

“It’s amazing how much can be saved over the course of the year just by driving smarter. You learn that by using your gears more effectively you are being more fuel efficient – for example, I didn’t know you could drive at 30mph in fifth gear – and by being more observant and aware of what’s going on ahead of you, you can avoid braking suddenly, which uses less fuel.”

Dorothy McIntosh, Office Manager, BSCTC, said:

“Everyone has taken something away from the course and they are already seeing a reduction in the amount they spend on fuel.”

Choose ‘Best in class’ vehicles

As well as FuelGood training, we also advised BSCTC that when the time came to replace its minivan, choosing a model with maximum fuel efficiency could reduce its fuel bill by as much as 29% per year.

“We work our community vehicle hard,” Dorothy admitted. “It travels long distances across a very rural region. Being able to increase the fuel efficiency of this vehicle in particular will be a great benefit to the organisation.”

To compare the energy efficiency of new and used cars and small vans registered since 2001, try the Best in Class search tool operated by our partner, Energy Saving Trust.

“The driver training recommended by Changeworks has been a revelation.”

Dorothy McIntosh, Office Manager, BSCTC