Watchdog research bolsters rural bus argument

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The importance of local bus services to people living in the countryside has been highlighted by research carried out by the watchdog Passenger Focus.

The research, ‘Rural bus services’, focused on the experiences of passengers traveling on Herefordshire Council’s ‘market day buses’, which are tendered weekly services, and Shropshire Council’s demand responsive ShropshireLink.

Passenger Focus said while the findings were not untypical of most rural areas the overall message is clear – passengers who use rural bus services rely on them and their ability to get to the places they need or want to get to would be severely affected if these buses disappeared.

The key findings include:

  • over half of the passengers use rural bus services to make all or most trips outside of their neighbourhood;
  • a third of passengers would struggle to make these trips if these bus services were not available;
  • the vast majority of passengers are very satisfied with all aspects of the journey they had just made on the services provided;
  • the majority of passengers are over 60, with a good proportion aged over 70 and a third said they had a disability;
  • only a minority believing that their councils would listen a lot to their view if they wanted to make changes to services.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus’ CEO, said: “For people living in the countryside, especially those without access to a car, rural bus services are seen as a lifeline. Many of these services are under threat as local authorities’ budgets are squeezed.”