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Transport Deserts - why reconnecting rural England matters

The CPRE, the countryside charity have launched a new report Transport deserts, highlighting the lack of public transport across rural towns in the North East and South West of England

The summary of the report can be found here and the full report here.

The report found that more than half of small rural towns in these regions are now transport deserts or are on the brink of becoming one, meaning that driving a car is often the only way to get around. This is leaving older people cut-off and isolated, shrinking opportunities for younger people, and trapping low income households between debt and unemployment.

Transport deserts are not inevitable and, in the summary, they have set out a series of policies they want to see the government to adopt in order to reconnect rural communities with affordable, reliable, and convenient public transport.

That is why CPRE, the countryside charity is calling for:

  1. A national bus strategy that sets out a clear and ambitious target for the proportion of people living within walking distance of a regularly served bus stop, as well as addressing flaws in existing policies such as the inadequate concessionary fare reimbursement rates that currently undermine rural services.
  2. The introduction of a new Rural Transport Fund set up in the following way:

2.1. A guaranteed multi-year investment in rural transport specifically allocated to local authorities to spend on supporting public transport provision for rural communities that currently need better connections.

2.2. Allocated on the basis of the proportion of a local authorities’ population living in rural areas and small hub towns.

2.3. Available for both revenue and capital spending so that the money can either be used for investing in local infrastructure, or subsidising new or expanded services such as bus routes.

2.4. Not linked to one specific mode of transport provision so that local authorities are able to choose solutions that work best for their communities and trial innovative models such as demand responsive transport, and mobility as a service.

  1. An ambitious national programme of rail re-openings funded by national government, restoring branch passenger services to small towns in rural areas.

The CPRE, Countryside Charity launched their report in the House of Commons on 12th Feb and more information can be seen here:
https://twitter.com/CPRE/status/1227528175460241408

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