The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Encourage and incentivise bus operators, local authorities and communities to work in partnership, so they can find local solutions that reduce the frontline impact on services that are a result of tightening public sector budgets.
- As noted in the local government funding section above, amend the formula used by DCLG to distribute Government grant, to make it fairer and to take full account of the rural cost premium.
- Reform the statutory concessionary fares scheme so it applies to and is fully funded by central Government to apply to the public transport that is actually available in a local area (including community transport). It should not be restricted to bus travel.
- Provide sufficient extra funding for local authorities to enable them to provide transport to 16 to 19 year olds still in education.
- Protect the value of Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) under any future payment regime and ensure that rural areas are not disadvantaged by revisions. Any further erosion of this grant could have a significant impact on marginal rural bus services, including those run by smaller rural bus operators.
- Extend the Local Sustainable Transport Fund beyond 2015, to enable innovative schemes in rural areas and elsewhere that will deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Encouragement for new rural transport approaches should be supported.
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