The public transport scene is definitely warming up. At long last we have the plight of the rural bus service being brought to the forefront. A recent call for evidence by the County All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the County council Network (CCN) began by stating:
The County All Party Parliamentary Group (County APPG) is undertaking an independent inquiry into the decline of rural bus services in county and rural areas with the County Councils Network (CCN). The County APPG was established to act as an influential forum to raise county issues – and opportunities – in Parliament and around Westminster, and is currently chaired by Peter Aldous, the MP for Waveney. For more information, see: www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/advocacy/ccn-in-parliament/county-appg/. The CCN is the national voice of England’s 36 county authorities. A cross-party organisation, CCN develops policy and commissions research on behalf of counties and provides the secretariat for the APPG. For more information, see: www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk.
Bus services in rural areas provide a lifeline to many residents, but it is widely recognised that their number and frequency have been in decline over the past few years. The Campaign for Better Transport recently analysed Department for Transport figures and found that over 3,000 bus routes have been reduced, altered or withdrawn between 2010 and 2018. Linked to this, a joint inquiry in 2018 into Social Mobility between the County APPG, CCN and Localis found that the reduction in bus services is having a negative impact on the social mobility of residents in county areas in terms of access to skills and education.
The full document can be found on www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk
About time the rural bus got a hearing. The Herefordshire sustainable Transport Group has sent two reports in connection with this call for evidence. These reports are available on the RBfH website.
Gareth Calan Davies