Car Bute turns its gaze to mainland

ISLAND car-sharing club Car Bute has increased the size of its fleet with the arrival of a new vehicle, allowing the scheme to permanently base a car at Wemyss Bay to accommodate islanders’ mainland needs.

The car club, which is being developed into a social enterprise model following a successful pilot beginning in October last year, now has three cars available for hire and is proving popular with locals.

Project worker Caroline Speirs said: “What a lot of members asked for was a car based at Wemyss Bay for usage so that when they went to the mainland there was something already there for them.

“We wanted to do it but didn’t want two cars away from the island because of the demand here.

“Car Plus, funded by the department of transport, have a agreed for a six month trial for a car at Wemyss Bay. That’s how we are in the position for car number three.”

Car Bute – part of Towards Zero Carbon Bute, an initiative of housing association Fyne Homes’ sustainability arm Fyne Futures - has been running for seven months and now has 25 members.

While the cars – including the latest addition, a 2011 Vauxhall Meriva – can already be taken off the island for purposes on the mainland, Caroline believes a car based at Wemyss Bay would be a beneficial step forward.

“I think the Wemyss Bay car can be used for a variety of things,” she continued, “perhaps for hospital visits, if maybe the bus timetables are not suitable, or for accessing any other services that can be difficult using public transport.

“Somebody uses Car Bute just now to go to Dunoon for a monthly shop, for example.

“The possibilities are really endless. During the school holidays or at weekends you can take the kids away. There are so many things that having a car on the other side can offer.”

As well as providing a service for Bute residents, Caroline suggested Car Bute could play a role locally in the tourism market.

“It’s good for holiday makers because it means they can see Bute rather than just Rothesay,” she added.

“We want to develop the tourism market so visitors can see more of Bute and generate more income into the community.”