Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


ANNEX A

RURAL TRANSPORT: SOME OF THE ISSUES

TYPES OF TRANSPORT ISSUES IN RURAL AREAS

These can be summarised under three headings:

  1. Issues relating to the travel requirements of rural residents and businesses (i.e., links to nearby towns and urban areas). Attempts to improve the accessibility of these areas will generally result in more people being attracted to the area, a development which will have mixed impacts on the local economy and local housing situation.

  2. Issues relating to the travel requirements of urban residents in accessing the countryside. Traffic restraints will have an impact on the local economy, which increasingly relies on income from tourism.

  3. Issues relating to travel between urban areas. These transport "corridors" may also offer facilities (shopping and other services) to the local rural communities.

AVAILABILITY OF TRANSPORT SERVICES IN RURAL AREAS

The 1997 Rural Services Survey by the RDC found that:

    —  75 per cent of English rural parishes did not have a daily bus service.

    —  94 per cent did not have any rail service at all.

    —  79 per cent did not have a community transport service.

  Where services did exist, they were less frequent and more expensive than in towns. Reasons for this include greater population sparsity, longer distances travelled (and therefore higher costs) and lower levels of subsidy. Thus the highest spending metropolitan authority spends £85 per head on public transport in 1997, while the highest spending shire county spends just under £10 per head. On top of this, there are considerable variations in concessionary fares: while shire authorities plan to spend just over £3 per head in 1997-98, metropolitan authorities are planning to spend £18 per head. Such a position also results in the creation of a cycle of low service provision, as the lack of public transport encourages by default the development of alternative (private) transport arrangements, which in turn reduce the demand for public transport, even though the private and environmental costs of such an evolution may be considerable.

IMPLICATIONS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES

  Lack of reliable, frequent and affordable public transport means that car ownership is twice as high in the lowest income decile in rural areas as in conurbations. This still means that nearly one-fifth of households in the countryside do not have a car, and a higher proportion do not have access to a car when they need it (for instance in the case of the household where the main earner has to use the car to get to work).

  There are particular groups who experience transport disadvantage more sharply. This includes older people, women (especially with children), the disabled and the young. Restricted public transport opportunities mean that, in particular for the young, the choice of jobs, training and educational opportunities is restricted.


 
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