Dial M for Medal as special bus service scoops national prize

National award for Moray's Dial M bus service
National award for Moray’s Dial M bus service

A COMMUNITY BUS service that has been credited with saving Moray Council around £170,000 in subsidy costs has received a national award.

Dial M for Moray was launched eight years ago to provide a service to remote areas of the region, replacing loss-making scheduled services considered no longer sustainable.

The local authority said that the service has helped reduce isolation for people living in remove communities, allowing them to book journey’s in advance. The service is centred on five areas in Moray – Buckie, Elgin, Forres, Keith and Speyside, with the Buckie area taking in Kingston and Garmouth.

Now the initiative has been recognised by being awarded the Campbell Christie Public Service Reform prize, beating off the challenge of 170 similar services around the country when the award was made in a special ceremony in the Scottish Parliament.

Transport manager Donald Macrae said: “In terms of offering a level of social care, our regular elderly customers can be monitored by staff and health services can be alerted if there are concerns for them.

“The buses can also be used for the promotion of care options and health campaigns. Most recently the original pilot project in Forres was expanded in response to customer demand for access to the new GP surgery in the town.”

Leader of Moray Council, Cllr Stewart Cree, added: “By asking the community what their transport needs are and adapting a traditionally urban model to deliver a rural solution to meet them, the customer is at the heart of this project. The council now delivers a superior service in-house at less cost, what I would call the Holy Grail of public sector ambition.”

The Award is given to the service that best embodies the spirit of public service reform, showcasing the exceptional public sector of the future – working across departmental and organisational boundaries, placing the citizen at the centre of service delivery and working to tackle the causes of social ills, rather than solely the symptoms