£50,000 grant from East Hampshire District Council for new minibus
East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) has awarded Treloar’s £50,000 through the Community Infrastructure Levy towards a new electric minibus.
We have an urgent need for an additional, specially adapted, fully electric bus within our fleet. The grant will go towards the purchase of a Sigma-9 high floor vehicle which can carry seven wheelchair users and nine other passengers. It has a 300-mile range, produces no emissions and will be kitted out to meet the complex needs of Treloar School and College students.
Suitable transport required
The complexity of the disabilities that the students have at Treloar’s means that 98% who live and attend the School and College rely on their wheelchairs to go about their day.
No young person should be restricted by their circumstances, and here at Treloar’s we do everything in our power to give our students the very best opportunities and experiences possible. Whether it’s going to the local college for their A-Level courses, attending work experience, going shopping, heading out on a school trip, or going to medical appointments, the young people require suitable transport to get them from A to B. We have a specialist fleet of transport on our site because there is no other alternative means of transport for physically disabled people with complex needs in the local area.
Transporting Treloar’s students
One of the main reasons we need to acquire this new vehicle is an increase in Treloar’s students who are having independence training and residing on our campus in Holybourne but are attending Hampshire South Downs College–Alton Campus (HSDC Alton College) daily. These students are supported both in and outside their classes by a team of dedicated and specialist Treloar’s Learning Support Assistants who will also carry out any personal care required.
The Treloar’s/HSDC Alton College group of students has grown dramatically over the last two years from five-six students a year to 15-16 students a year, with predictions to remain at this level in the future. One of the primary functions of the new electric bus will be to undertake on average eight daily trips between HSDC Alton College and Treloar’s campus to transport this group of students. We currently have to use two-three vehicles per trip between our campus and HSDC Alton College which means our transport is not available for other Treloar’s students to use. This year, we estimate 394 trips will not be fulfilled by our current transport fleet and for a further 66 trips we will need to hire transport from external sources. The bus will also be used for many other local trips by students around Alton, East Hampshire and surrounding areas through the day, evening and weekends.
Treloar’s currently has nine accessible passenger vehicles in its fleet and on average they make 295 trips per academic year each. Each and every one of them serves a very real and fundamental purpose for our students on a daily basis. We have one other electric vehicle in our fleet and plan to progress to all electric vehicles over the next ten years to reduce our reliance on fuel consumption and improve our carbon footprint.
New vehicle will allow to increase school trips by 10%
The new electric bus will enhance our current fleet which includes small, single wheelchair plus driver vehicles all the way through to our coach which can transport up to 11 wheelchairs. This new vehicle would allow us to increase our trips by 10% each year, meet our current gap in demand for HSDC Alton College students and cater for students going out in class groups of around seven. Having 35 classes across School and College, the demand is extremely high and the coach is often not able to access every location due to its tight turning circle. Due to these challenges, we often have to take two-three of our smaller minibuses to transport class groups which is not cost-effective or environmentally friendly.
The specification of the new electric bus:
- 9.3 long fully electric bus that will transport up to seven students in their electric powered wheelchairs, nine passenger seats for teachers and support staff
- Tail lift to ensure our students can safely enter and exit the bus
- Tracking lines embedded into the floor to secure wheelchairs and prevent them from moving around during a journey
- Sensory lighting, Wi-Fi, USB points, a hearing aid loop, headphone points and radio to provide stimulation during journeys, particularly as many of our students have communication difficulties
- Heavily tinted windows to provide privacy and dignity whilst students are being secured into and exiting the bus together with protection from the sun. This is particularly important as many of our students suffer from weak muscles in their lower and upper body so would be unable to raise their arm or hand to shield their face from the sun
- Aesthetics: although our vehicles are designed to cater for disabilities it does not by any means mean that our students enjoy travelling in a bus or coach that is obviously designed for disabled people. Our students, especially the teenagers and College groups like to be inconspicuous so classic grey steel paintwork and hidden lifts are very popular as they do not draw attention to our students while out in the community
As well as a School and College, Treloar’s also lets seven flats to young disabled people in their onsite Campbell Court complex and in Autumn 2023 is opening four flats within the Rivermead Gardens estate in Alton. The new bus will be available for these groups of young people to use as well should it be required.