The latest Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Focus magazine has highlighted the current crisis rural bus services are experiencing. Like bus services in general, there is a general decline in use due to unattractive services, including the lack of early morning/evening services and infrequent timetabling.
However, for rural communities, bus provision is still a vital mode of transport, offering services for the elderly and non-drivers. The CILT article however does state that due to rural areas low population density, providing the level of service, like that of an urban areas, is impractical and not less economically viable. Despite this over a quarter of all bus journeys in England (outside London) are predominately in rural areas.
The decline in transport has been fuelled by pressures in local government finance, with increasing average operating costs, coupled with reduced use, which leads to reduced profit margins. Despite this government have expressed the need to support rural bus servicing, with new funding schemes put in place to encourage development of services, and as such kick start schemes such as CallConnect, a demand responsive service in Lincolnshire.
The article suggests that a “more comprehensive, consistent and concerted approach” to rural services should be adopted, similar to other European countries. The main principles of which include; a framework on services, demand responsive provision, community involvement, harnessing of taxi and private hire services and using technology to provide information and ticketing.
“It is vital rural areas are not abandoned” as impacts to communities such as social isolation, could have knock on effects to public health and well-being. Therefore, the government must realise how important rural bus provision is, aiding in the creation of a rural public transport network that supports economic grown and well-being.
The full article can be found here: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&pubid=caae06e6-cf57-488d-8cd0-f96e3006a4bf