A PILOT project to help students in rural areas get to college is being officially launched by Devon County Council this week. Wheels 2 Learn is offering the loan of a moped to students aged 16–19 who are in full-time further education, but are unable to

A PILOT project to help students in rural areas get to college is being officially launched by Devon County Council this week.

Wheels 2 Learn is offering the loan of a moped to students aged 16-19 who are in full-time further education, but are unable to reach their college on public transport.

The scheme is operating on a trial basis until July next year at East Devon College, South Devon College, Bicton College and Holsworthy Skills Centre. The launch will be held at Bicton College on Wednesday.

The pilot is being funded through the Post 16 Partnership which comprises representatives from Devon County Council, Further Education Colleges and Schools, Connexions and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Sixteen scooters are currently available through Wheels 2 Learn and if successful the scheme may be extended in the next academic year.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "This scheme will help give independence to the young people taking part in this pilot. There are plenty of rural areas which are not served by regular public transport and these scooters will make it possible for some students to travel to college when they may otherwise have had no realistic alternative."

Councillor Christine Channon, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Schools and Skills, said: "Wheels 2 Learn is making education accessible for students in rural areas. The availability of regular transport can have a bearing on whether some students continue onto further education, but this scheme will help provide a choice where there may otherwise have been none. Students are also very keen to support sustainable transport and scooters are a low cost to low energy transport."

Students are asked to make a contribution of £7 a week hire cost and £5 a week returnable deposit. The deposit will be refunded to the rider at the end of the loan period, provided the moped is returned undamaged and no insurance claims have been made. The scheme provides all riders with a safety helmet, padded jacket, reflective tabard and gloves, free of charge.

To qualify for a scooter, students must live more than three miles from suitable public transport. Those taking part in the scheme can travel to any area up to a 48-mile round trip from their home to their place of education.

Riders must have either a provisional or full licence to ride a moped. Licence application forms are available from local post offices or may be ordered online from www.direct.gov.uk.

All new riders on a provisional licence and all new car drivers with a full licence will need a 'Compulsory Basic Training' (CBT) certificate before being allowed to ride a moped on the road. The CBT is a one-day course held at a local approved training centre, and includes a classroom discussion, off-road and on-road tuition. The cost of this will be met by Devon Wheels 2 Learn. After successfully completing the CBT, each rider will be required to attend a safety seminar held at their college.

The scooters for the pilot scheme are being provided by Devon Wheels 2 Work, based near Okehampton. Over the past two years the not-for-profit company, part-funded by Devon County Council, has helped more than 320 people in rural communities throughout Devon travel to work or training.

For more details and to download an application form visit:

www.devon.gov.uk/school_transport or www.devonwheels2learn.co.uk

Notes for editors

Media representatives are invited to the launch of Wheels 2 Learn at Bicton College at 2pm on Wednesday 4 November.