Last February CPRE and the Campaign for Better Transport published their report 'Transport Desert', focussing on the North East and South West regions of England and showing how the quarter of the country's population who live in small towns may soon live in a transport desert, lacking the bare minimum of a rural bus route and losing access to services, education, work and leisure opportunities. It also highlights transport 'oases' within the same areas and best practice by local providers and councils.
Nationally more than one bus route has been taken away from town and village residents every single day for the last 8 years.
A lack of good rural public transport has huge knock-on effects on these villages and towns. Younger people are being forced to move away for better access to education or work, older people can be left lonely or isolated and those on low incomes can be driven into debt by the need to own a car. Increased car use, pollution and congestion follow on.
A plan of action
Wherever we live and whatever our personal circumstances, we all deserve to be able to get to work and to places to socialise and reach local services like our GP easily. Making sure that we can all reliably and affordably reach the facilities that we need is a basic part of living in a fair society.
We want the government to invest more money in rural transport, set ambitious targets for the proportion of people living within walking distance of a bus stop and reopen rural railways across the country. There have been some brilliant examples of local people coming up with their own, innovative solutions, such as coming together to provide volunteer-based options like community minibuses. We’d like to see dedicated funding to build on this and increase the amount of public transport – especially in the areas where we found particular issues.
What can we do?
This situation isn’t inevitable. It’s the result of decades of underinvestment from successive governments leading to unreliable bus services. The UK has never had a national bus strategy. But we know it can be done differently. Sign our petition here calling on the Government to make sure every communitry has a reliable bus service.
More buses means:
- Less traffic and air pollution
- Better access to local green space for everyone
- More spending on our local high streets
- Access to training and jobs for everyone
- A ticket out of loneliness and isolation for our friends and family.
If people across the country speak with one voice, we know politicians will have to listen.
Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash