Rise in electric community car schemes in Wales

'Neli' the Nissan Leaf
Image caption In Corwen, the electric car is a red Nissan Leaf called Neli

New community electric car schemes are being set up around Wales, in an attempt to give people better transport links in rural areas.

They have a car in a central location which people can book and use if they want to get somewhere when buses, trains or taxis are not available or would cost too much.

A community car scheme was started in Corwen in Denbighshire last year.

Two new electric cars have also been ordered for rural areas in Gwynedd.

Others are being looked at in Conwy and Wrexham counties.

Supporters say they can make it easier for people in rural areas to get to job interviews, hospital appointments, or just to do the shopping. But at least one scheme in Wales has been wound up.

In Corwen, the electric car is a red Nissan Leaf called Neli, organised by the South Denbighshire Community Partnership.

Bookings have been slow to come in since the electric car arrived in October last year, but organisers have used it as an extra vehicle for a community dial-a-ride scheme when it’s not been out on hire.

Image caption Margaret Sutherland said Neli arrived in October 2018.

Margaret Sutherland, chief officer, said the car had already been successful.

“We have had people who’ve wanted to get to an interview, for example. They could get to the job on the bus, but the interview was in a different place or at an inconvenient time,” she said.

“Neli has been able to help them out. It’s a three-year pilot project, but she’s already proved her worth.

“Research showed that accessing transport was a real problem for people in Corwen. There’s been a decrease in public transport and we wanted to have a community car.

“We’re promoting Neli with a big publicity campaign at the moment and, now we’re in the holidays, we’ve had interest from parents at home with children in the school holidays who can book her for days out.”

Image caption Carole McClung said the service has been a “godsend” to get around

Carole McClung is a user of the service and pays a yearly fee to be able to book the car 48 hours in advance.

She said: “I’ve used it to go to the dentist and other medical appointments. It’s very handy.”

The rural development agency Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig has just ordered two electric cars, and is looking for villages and towns that would like to run a community electric car sharing scheme.

Project Officer Carwyn ap Myrddin said: “The aim is to have a car located in a convenient location in a village or town to help people who are isolated and who haven’t got good access to public transport.

“Transport is an issue. There have been cutbacks. This is a pilot project to see if an electric car sharing scheme is an answer.

“It will need a strong group of local volunteers to get best use of the car, particularly as they could also act as drivers for those who need transport but can’t drive.”

The first community electric car sharing scheme in Wales was in Cilgwyn near Newport, Pembrokeshire in 2013. It was closely followed by a scheme in the city of St Davids.

But Andy Dixon, who helped run the St Davids scheme, said it was wound up after a year.

“In some ways, we were too rural for it to work properly. We had people from outlying areas driving into St Davids in their own cars to pick up the electric one.

“The insurance also meant that people under 25 weren’t able to drive it. But they were the group of people who had the most need for a shared car.”

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