Friday, 09 September 2016 18:44

Reverse rural transport cuts – campaigners

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Reverse rural transport cuts – campaigners

Campaigners have urged the government to use the Bus Services Bill to reverse rural transport cuts.

Government ministers should take immediate action to improve public transport in rural areas, said the Campaign for Better Transport.

"Public transport cuts can have a devastating impact on rural areas," said campaign chief executive Stephen Joseph.

"If you don't have access to a car, the chances are you're reliant on buses to get you to school, to hospital, to friends or to the shops.

"If that bus service disappears it can leave whole villages completely isolated.

"The government must use the Bus Services Bill to give rural local authorities the powers and funding to stop communities getting cut off."

The Bus Services contains measures to help improve buses in towns and cities – but little to help rural areas where services have been hit hard by local authority funding cuts.

The Bill is currently in the House of Lords and will soon be introduced in the House of Commons.

Campaigners want a raft of measures to be included in the Bill to help get rural public transport on a proper long term footing.

This includes local public transport assessments requiring local authorities should be required to carry out assessments of need for public transport in their areas.

Many local authorities do not currently do this, meaning cuts to bus services could be considered in isolation with the result that whole communities risked being cut off, said Mr Joseph.

A proper assessment of bus services and other public transport would allow better strategic planning that join public transport services up and get beyond short-term considerations like subsidy per passenger.

Campaigners also want local transport providers to better coordinate their public transport provision.

Schools, hospitals, local authorities and various other organisations invest in local public transport, but seldom plan services together.

This can mean scarce financial resources are not used to the best effect.

Dubbed "Total Transport" a new approach seeks to combine budgets and planning to give better more efficient services.

The Bus Services Bill has to come with financial support as well as new powers, say campaigners.

They want existing grants such as the Bus Service Operators' Grant retained at their existing level while additional money is  made available to support local public transport assessments and total transport.

Investing in buses is excellent value and socially progressive, says the Campaign for Better Transport.

Those most likely to rely on public transport are older people, low income groups, disabled people and young people.

Supporting these groups helps facilitate access to education, to jobs and services, supports independent living and many other benefits. Such investment should be delivered through a new Bus and Coach Investment Strategy.

Finally, campaigners want the Bill exteneded so public transport can be protected in a similar fashion to buildings or land that are deemed to be be community assets.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Anne Hall)

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    Wholeheartedly agree- We have set up a "Friends of X112" to save two services the X11 and X12 and kept it going after subsidies were removed. We raised £19,000 last year and had 30,000 passengers(endorse passengers you outlined) Young people have to go at least 14 miles to access post 16 education. We are happy to keep fundraising,understanding previous subsidy was £85,000 ..We would be glad of a guaranteed £10,000 subsidy and continue our both fundraising AND creating extra trips, ramble,lunche

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