The Rural Wheels system changed from 1st April 2024.  

The Smartcards have been phased out and payments will instead be made by 'phone at the time of booking 

                        For more information please ring 01228 226430 between 9am and 12pm.

Rural Wheels provides door to door transport for people who do not have, or are unable to access scheduled transport or have a volunteer driver available. 

The service can be used for a variety of purposes including: 

  • making connections with buses or trains 
  • doctor, Dentist or Optician appointments     
  • visiting friends or family in hospital
  • shopping
  • visiting friends or family.

It does not duplicate other Council transport provision and therefore cannot be used for transport to day care, school, nursery or college and cannot be used for hospital appointments/treatment if Patient Transport is available. If you need transport to get you to your hospital appointment please check your eligibility for Patient Transport by contacting the Patient Transport Service run by North West Ambulance on 0800 032 3240. 

Rural Wheels uses a 'Smartcard' to pay for travel and a central booking system to plan journeys.  Passengers need to apply for the Smartcard before they are able to travel.  The value of the Smartcard can be topped up with the transport provider or alternatively at some local post offices, libraries and mobile libraries.  Transport requests must be booked by telephone before noon the day before travelling and passengers may be asked to be flexible about their travel time and also to share transport which will be at a reduced fare.

Apply for Rural Wheels by downloading the application form and return your downloaded application by post to:

The Rural Wheels Coordinator 
Cumberland Council 
PO Box 415

or alternatively contact the Rural Wheels coordinator on 01228 226430 to apply over the telephone.

 Title  Date  Size
26/01/2024 1481k
26/01/2024 1873k
26/01/2024 1175k

Provides a timetabled service for communities to their nearest town and uses the Rural Wheels membership scheme, planning service for booking and smartcard for payment.

To find out more about individual Village Wheels schemes please use the links below.  As Village Wheels is not a registered bus service passengers are unable to use their concessionary NOWcards.

Map of where the scheme is in operation (red routes) (PDF 137KB)

 Title  Date  Size
16/04/2024 367k
16/04/2024 415k
16/04/2024 360k
16/04/2024 383k
16/04/2024 359k

Government funding has helped to buy 6 new accessible minibuses.  They will provide regular transport, driven by volunteer drivers in areas where scheduled bus services are not available.   

Map of where the scheme is currently in operation (blue routes) (PDF 137KB)

The Council and a local steering group will work together to deliver the service:

Cumbria County Council will:

  • provide the minibus asset and retain ownership of the vehicle
  • work with the community through the steering group to develop the service that meets evidenced need
  • support the recruitment of volunteer drivers
  • ensure volunteer drivers are trained to MiDAS standard and have full vehicle familiarisation.
  • ensure that the community minibuses are legal, roadworthy and in the correct location.  The day to day aspects of this will be delivered by Cumbria Community Transport on behalf of the County Council. 
  • monitor usage, and provide information to the steering group regarding cost of provision and income generated.

The "Community" will:

  • form a steering group and take ownership of the service
  • work with the County Council to develop, support and promote the service
  • recruit a pool of volunteer drivers from their community to drive the minibus.


  • drivers need to have a full driving licence
  • if they passed their test after 1997 they will also need Category D1 on their license (funding available)
  • volunteer mileage expenses are covered at 45p per mile.


  • passengers need to be registered with the Council's Rural Wheels service and should pre-book their seat on the transport.  This is because of the Section 19 permit legislation under which community minibuses can operate and the need for users of the vehicle to be part of a "membership" scheme. 
  • passenger fares are paid by Rural Wheels smartcard at a rate of 25p per mile.  Concessionary NoWcards can't be used on "Community Wheels" services as they are not scheduled bus services.

The minibuses are also available for hire to "not-for-profit" groups through Cumbria Community Transport. This helps to generate additional income and enhance the service viability.  

For more details see the leaflet or poster below

Then to travel, join the scheme by completing and returning the application form in the leaflet

 Title  Date  Size
22/12/2023 869k
22/12/2023 1412k

If you would like to know more about Community Wheels and discuss how this could be a solution to some of your communities transport needs or if you are interested in volunteering as a minibus driver please contact the Transport Services Team on 07788 396194 or 0333 240 69 65 (option 5 - charged at local rate)

Are you a Private Hire or Hackney Carriage Licence holder?  If you would like to know more about becoming a Rural Wheels operator, please contact the Rural Wheels Officer:

Telephone: 01228 226430


Contact us


Rural Wheels 

PO Box 415



Telephone:  01228 226430


  • Rural Wheels Smartcard system is changing by 1st April, for more information please ring 01228 226430 between 9am and 12pm.