Change bill to protect rural bus services, demand transport campaigners

5 Sep 16

The government must amend the Bus Services Bill to include rural transport and ensure services outside urban centres are protected from cuts, the Campaign for Better Transport has said.

The bill, currently in the House of Lords, contains measures to improve buses in towns and cities but offers little help or opportunities to improve bus services outside urban centres.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, highlighted that cuts to public transport can have a “devastating” impact on areas that are out of the way.

“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 campaign recommended several measures that should be included in the bill to get rural transport “on a proper long term footing”.

First, the campaign said, would be more funding and new powers for local authorities. Communities should also be given powers to require councils to protect important services from loss or change, as they already can do for land and buildings. 

Local authorities should be required to carry out needs assessments for public transport in their areas to allow for better strategic, long-term planning.

Finally, the campaign said, councils, schools and hospitals should combine transport budgets and planning to achieve greater efficiencies.

“Those most likely to rely on public transport are older people, low income groups, disabled people and young people,” the campaign highlighted. “Supporting these groups helps facilitate access to education and jobs and services, and supports independent living and many other benefits.”

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