MPs call for transport revolution

MPs have called for action to improve passenger transport services for isolated communities.

Policymakers must recognise the fundamental importance of transport in isolated communities for access to education, healthcare and employment, said the Transport Select Committee.

Neglect of passenger transport services will reduce access to education, employment, health services, and other essential services, it warned.

Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: "Old and young, unemployed people, those on low incomes and disabled people who live in isolated communities rely on passenger transport."

"Two out of every five job seekers cite lack of transport as a barrier to finding work. All these groups are disproportionately affected by inadequate or reduced services.

"It is vital that all ministers recognise the fundamental importance of passenger transport in providing access to education, healthcare and employment."

But the problem isn't limited to the countryside. The report highlights how "isolated communities" are frequently situated in urban as well as rural areas and island settings.

Ms Ellman said: "Policy makers sometimes equate 'isolated' with 'rural' or island communities, but we found that some urban and suburban areas have inadequate passenger transport.

"The DfT should draft a definition of 'isolated communities' for use across central and local government to target scarce resources in ways that reach all types of isolated community."

The committee also challenges the government's assertion that community transport schemes run by volunteers can compensate for decreased bus services in isolated communities.

"We recognise their value but many community transport schemes are tiny and only serve particular groups in the community. It is unrealistic to expect volunteers to replace local bus services."

Pooling existing transport assets to deliver a broader range of services could revolutionise passenger transport provision for isolated communities, suggests the report.

"If, for example, hospital transport were combined with local bus services, it might revolutionise services for isolated communities," said Louise Ellman.

In addition, the committee report reiterates the long held concern of MPs that subsidised bus services continue to disappear as funding is cut.

"The bus industry must work with local authorities to deliver essential local services through the development of quality contracts similar to arrangements that operate in London."


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