ALBUM welcomes the Bus Users UK paper, “Rural Buses: Reversing the decline “ as an opportunity to recognise the importance of rural transport links in reducing isolation whilst improving access to vital services and opening up career and job opportunities.
Putting users at the heart of the debate as to how to improve rural transport links is vital to ensure any new system meets those users’ needs
Chair of ALBUM Bill Hiron said:
“This report gives all stakeholders an opportunity to get together to discuss how we solve the problems of rural isolation at a time of ongoing local authority austerity.
Recent cuts to local authority spending have given rise to reductions in rural bus services. In some instances the traditional bus may not be the future answer to improving rural transport.
ALBUM recognises that the present situation is causing hardship and isolation for many people in rural areas. Our members would welcome getting involved with all stakeholders in providing local solutions to particular rural transport problems.
However one has to be realistic and question how future services will be funded at a time of ongoing local authority cutbacks. The Bus Users paper refers to work by Greener Journeys which shows that there is an economic value to local economies when public transport links are improved. We hope this is taken into account by local authorities when they review their spending on rural transport services”
There are areas of the report which ALBUM members do not wholly agree with such as the proposal for a reduction in regulations in a trial area to see if this would improve transport provision. Any trials of reduced regulation must ensure that the bus industry’s excellent safety record and repute is not damaged.
ALBUM also recognises that the present Judicial Review by the Bus and Coach Association around section 19 and 22 permits may have a significant effect on future rural transport links. ALBUM hopes that any outcome to the JR is proportionate to the issue being addressed and allows flexibility in meeting local needs with local solutions
In closing Bill Hiron commented: “By working across all stakeholders but especially involving bus users this report is an excellent start to the debate on how we can all work to improve transport links in rural areas”