Ten-point plan targets decline in rural bus
Bus Users UK has published a ten-point plan to reduce the decline in rural bus services.
‘Rural buses: reversing the decline’ 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 consumer-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.
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 ten-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enhance and bolster local bus networks, especially in rural areas of the country where services have been reduced or withdrawn.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.”
• The full report can be found here: https://bit.ly/2WLyBIp
- Reform the role of Traffic Commissioners to have regard for the interests of bus users.
- Lower barriers of entry to the industry without compromising safety, to encourage new start businesses. Financial Standing regulations in particular should be reformed to remove discrimination against SMEs and rural areas.
- Reform Section 63 of the 1985 Transport Act to give local authorities a ‘duty’ rather than a ‘power’ under the Act.
- Reform the local transport responsibilities of local authorities to promote a consumer-led approach.
- Issue guidance on school start and finish times. School governors do not have to have regard to the cost of changes to these times. They should have to compensate LAs for this extra cost, with funding ring-fenced for rural bus network provision.
- Reform community transport regulations. While CT operators are non-commercial entities, their operations can be so successful they become commercial. In these cases, LAs can put the service out to tender, with the reverse also being possible when a commercial service ceases to be viable. This has no impact on passengers. Making the costs the same for both, even though there is no direct competition, will force CT operators out of the local bus sector. The concept of ‘short distance’ should be based on the need to access essential services rather than mileage.
- Increase rural accessibility. Commercially-run inter-urban routes, fed by local routes from rural areas, should be encouraged.
- Trial ideas for new models of rural bus provision built on community interest or cooperative principles.
- Make local partnership working a requirement between local authorities and bus operators of any kind.
- Address the transport needs of the rural population. Joined-up approaches are essential to ensure that no community is left isolated.