Bus Users UK publishes rural bus report

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Organisation sets out a 10-point plan to reverse the decline in rural services

Bus Users UK has released a new report entitled ‘Rural buses: reversing the decline,’ which seeks to identify the reasons behind the fall in rural services and the impact that has on inequality, social isolation and deprivation.

Changing lifestyles, flexible working, funding cuts and the regulatory environment are some of the key factors in the decline in rural services, the organisation asserts.

Bus Users UK
A Hopley’s Coaches service winds its way through the roads surrounding Mount Hawke near Truro. RICHARD SHARMAN

The report calls for reform of the Traffic Commissioners to ‘have regard for the interests of bus users,’ modernisation of the role of the DVSA, for local authorities to take a more passenger-led approach to transport, and for local partnership working to be a requirement between local authorities and bus operators.

It also calls for a trial for new models of rural bus provision built on community interest or cooperative principles.
Set out in the report is a 10-point plan to reverse the decline in rural services:
1. Reform the role of Traffic Commissioners to have regard for the interests of bus users.
2. Lower barriers of entry to the industry without compromising safety, to encourage new start businesses.
3. Reform Section 63 of the 1985 Transport Act to give local authorities a ‘duty’ rather than a ‘power’ under the Act.
4. Reform the local transport responsibilities of local authorities to promote a consumer-led approach.
5. Issue guidance on school start and finish times.
6. Reform community transport regulations.
7. Increase rural accessibility.
8. Trial ideas for new models of rural bus provision built on community interest or cooperative principles.
9. Make local partnership working a requirement between local authorities and bus operators of any kind.
10. Address the transport needs of the rural population.

Commenting on the report, CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: “CPT welcomes Bus Users’ recognition of the vital role that buses play in keeping rural communities connected, and their supporting 10-point plan reveals a number of shared industry objectives.

“For many people living in rural towns and villages across the UK, buses provide a real lifeline and remain the only feasible way for people to access shopping centres, work, education, medical facilities and social activities.

“The industry remains fully committed to meeting its passengers’ needs and supporting initiatives designed to further enhance and bolster local bus networks, especially in rural areas of the country where services have been reduced or withdrawn.

“As outlined in Bus Users’ plan, CPT looks forward to playing its part and continuing to work constructively with Government at all levels – and in partnership with local authority and industry partners – to find new and imaginative ways of keeping people connected and meeting the needs of passengers right across the country.”


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