Freedom is something most of us often take for granted. However, for others, it’s not always that easy and services like those offered by the Basildon Community Transport Service (BCTS) can mean the absolute world.

Funded by both Essex County Council and Basildon Borough Council, the not-for-profit charity currently runs a fleet of six minibuses, five of which are IVECO Daily. Now in its 20th year, these vehicles operate a mix of dial-a-ride, local bus route and group booking hire services across the Basildon area – the home of IVECO Limited and CNH Industrial.

Through the CNH Industrial Solidarity Fund, a global fund, which was set up to support the local areas in which the business operates, IVECO, a pioneering commercial vehicles brand of Iveco Group that designs, manufactures, and markets heavy, medium, and light-duty trucks, are donating a brand-new minibus to the service.

IVECO’s owned dealer group, IVECO Retail, has been charged with preparing the minibus and managing the livery process. The vehicle, an IVECO BUS Daily Start 40C18HA8 FVS/P is a factory-built solution for local transfers and features a high level of specification. The 4.25t GVW vehicle’s 3250L length gives it the capacity to carry 16 passengers plus a driver in high levels of comfort with pneumatic rear suspension and an automatically retractable step under the sliding side access door.

Under the bonnet is IVECO’s 180hp heavy-duty 3.0 F1C Euro VI/d diesel, the vehicle features the superb 8-speed
HI-MATIC automatic gearbox, ensuring a smooth and stress-free driving experience and excellent urban manoeuvrability in combination with a class-leading turning circle, perfect for frequent stop start operations as the vehicle weaves its way around Basildon providing the much-welcomed help and support.

Driven by a number of the charity’s employed drivers, the vehicle also features heat-insulating tinted windows, air conditioning with a centralised passenger climate system, heated & suspended front seats, electrically heated/adjustable door mirrors, aluminium-trimmed wooden flooring and LED passenger compartment lighting. An ESP system with Crosswind Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Proactive-lane-keep Assist, reversing sensors and the 7″ Hi-Connect infotainment system leverage the highest attention and safety systems while full LED headlights, electric parking brake and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System help to minimise downtime through minor maintenance.

BTCS’ operation not only provides both the elderly and less-able members of the community with comfortable and convenient transport for shopping and medical appointments, but also a means of socialisation – something that unfortunately has been seriously lacking for a large number of people throughout the pandemic. The drivers and volunteers often take the time to check in on members and assist with grocery shopping too.

While services have been affected by the COVID 19 pandemic over the past couple of years, forcing a halting of services between March and September 2020, the buses are back working hard and edging back towards 2,000+ passengers per month and a total annual mileage of over 60,000mi. All vehicles have been retrofitted with a mask supply and hand sanitiser station, supplementing a regular and thorough cleaning regime.

“You can imagine how delighted we were when we were contacted by IVECO with their extremely generous donation, and we are proud to have the support of local business. We were originally drawn to the IVECO Daily minibuses for their large passenger capacity, value and reputation for reliability,” commended BCTS Chief Executive, Tina Tickner. “While the newest Daily on our fleet is now ten years old, they continue to serve the charity well and we look forward to welcoming the new bus aboard”.

BCTS upholds a tradition for naming its minibuses after significant people within the organisation, proudly displaying the name across the quarter panels. The new bus is to be named ‘Dave’ after the oldest working member of the team, and longest-serving volunteer, Dave Simms. At 83, “Honoured” by the recognition, Dave has been with the charity for over a decade, overseeing procedures having originally worked with the sister organisation in Brentwood. Dave’s Daily will be hitting the road alongside ‘Doreen’, another IVECO bus named in memory of Dave’s late wife who also worked within the trust.

Mike Cutts, IVECO Ltd’s Light Business-line Director said, “We’re honoured to be able to support a hard-working charity like BCTS who strive so hard to improve the quality of life and provide invaluable socialisation within the local community. Long may ‘Dave’, ‘Doreen’ and the other minibuses continue to have a positive effect on the daily lives of those who ‘meet’ them”.

The new minibus was handed over at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the charity’s home, the George Hurd Activity Centre in Basildon on Thursday February 17th where staff from the charity and the Mayor of Basildon accepted the keys from IVECO Ltd Light Business-line Director, Mike Cutts and IVECO Retail Sales Manager, Gary Harding.

The Mayor of Basildon, Councillor David Dadds JP said “I am very proud that IVECO Ltd, a Basildon-based business, has chosen to support such a worthy cause for the betterment of our town’s residents. The IVECO minibus makes a smart and highly functional addition to the BCTS fleet and will enable them to support our community even more diligently as we return to normal life”.

A complete mission solution, IVECO Daily compliments it’s range of award-winning commercial vehicles with a specially designed four-tier bus range. Powered by a pair of strong and efficient EURO VI/e 3-litre diesel engines or IVECO’s market exclusive Compressed Natural Gas, Daily minibuses are factory-built solutions offering next level safety and occupant comfort.

Combining simplicity and functionality with value for money, Daily Start offers the ideal blend for airport parking or local taxi services. Daily Line brings category-leading passenger capacity, perfect for inter-city or school transport. Add a high level of standard equipment, luxury and best-in-class luggage capacity with Daily Tourys for exemplary corporate and tourist travel. New for 2022 sees an all-new addition to the range, showcasing central or rear low-entry models to satisfy the growing needs for accessible urban mobility with Daily Access.

IVECO Bus Daily offers the same flexibility and durability as its commercial counterparts, with 24/7 support from IVECO’s dealer-managed IVECO Non-Stop roadside assistance product, IVECO ON fleet management and smart Repair & Maintenance packages. Daily Bus product comes as standard with a three-year and 100,000-mile warranty.