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Barrie Duke

One of the greatest problems facing rural areas is the loss of appropriate transport.
In NW Devon the main bus routes have to be profit making so there are not enough to meet the need. People are missing hospital appointments, train connections, arriving late for work and being stranded because the last bus home is full. This has coincided with the introduction of free bus passes for older people which is competing for more rural subsidies.
In 2001 nearly 50% of the working population drove to work and this figure is rising steadily as buses are made to roam around the villages often empty supported by subsidies.
Unless a concerted movement is created to make bus transport relevant to people's needs they will not be able to connect with work opportunities, college education or health support. It's time there was alittle joined up planning in the coutryside and it needs the support of the RDA's

Helen Pakpahan

Are buses the answer? One of the recent 'Thinkpieces' funded by Commission for Rural Communities on Sustainable rural communities argues that maximimising the number of car passengers per car is actually more sustainable as it is flexible and responsive to peoples' needs and gives them direct routes - thus saving time for them and reducing enviornmental costs (of a bus touring villages with few passengers) - thus ideas like car share schemes facilitated by ICT, car clubs, as well as bringing services to the villages themselves (e.g. healthcare). What do you think?

Simon Berry

I think that more busses are usually NOT the answer and car share schemes only work for regular planned journeys for people wanting to start from a similar place and go to a similar destination at the same sort of time.

Instead of funding very expensive rural bus services to move fresh air from one location to another why don't we give taxi vouchers (4 a week?) to all those in rural areas without access to a car?

My feeling is that this would provide a better service for the service users. It would support local enterprise (taxi companies) and burn less fossil fuel.

We should at least do the sums.

Busses only work when lots of people want to go on the same journey at the same time - rarely the case in rural areas. We know that urban solutions rarely solve rural problems.

Barrie Duke

Well in Okehampton there is a large and growing public demand for buses because so many people are reliant on them, young, parents, banned drivers and older people. The local MP is chairing a meeting I am arranging. The problem is that there is simply not enough funding to support the fast, efficient services. This increase has mainly come about through the introduction of free bus passes for older people and the exccessive premiums put on petrol costs in some rual areas.
A lot of money goes into village services 'moving fresh air' where we might need local car sharing schemes that feed to fast, straight through public services. A principal that the railways adopt. I suspect that car share schemes can be promoted by those who are wedded to their convenience, in-car entertainment and gadgets rather than the future of the environment. Better bus services will reduce car accidents in rural areas.
Further the current forecast 20% decline in bus services over the next decade in a Nera report to the Passenger Transport Executive group is seen as the result of the loss of local authority control. [New Start 29Sep06 p3]. Current services are about cost and seldom balanced with quality, effectiveness or value.
We need local transport co-ordinators who can bang heads together so the services that exist are run on time, in decent vehicles, for the benefit of rural users, not axed in short-term measures for the support of more affluent car owners and bus company share holders.
Due to the lack of suitable public transport I am forced, for the first time to travel by car to this year's conference - or is that just because its in the wrong place for those who happen to live in the South West.
Anyone want my bus pass? - it's a waste of space in my wallet at the present.

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