The County All Party Parliamentary Group (County APPG) is undertaking an independent inquiry into the decline of rural bus services in county and rural areas with the County Councils Network (CCN).
Bus services in rural areas provide a lifeline to many residents, but it is widely recognised that their number and frequency have been in decline over the past few years. Furthermore, whilst bus ridership in rural areas has always been lower compared to their urban counterparts, evidence shows that bus services have declined faster in rural areas compared to other parts of the country.
A recent report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) with the Campaign for Better Transport has found that, outside of England’s major cities, communities are being left in ever-expanding ‘transport deserts’ with inadequate train and bus connections. The report, which focuses on England’s small towns found that it takes 54% longer for residents of small towns to get to their doctor’s surgery by public transport compared with those in larger towns.
With the Government’s levelling-up agenda, and the ambition for growth across the country, it is vital that the National Bus Strategy recognises the importance of shire counties, and considers how better connectivity through bus services could help to promote growth across the country through better mobility giving residents in county areas access to education and healthcare, skills and training, jobs and leisure.
There is also the context of the climate crisis, and the need to encourage residents to move away from car travel.
Local councils are welcome to contribute alongside the full range of public sector agencies, their national representative bodies, public and private sector providers, business, third sector, and community groups.
The County APPG invites written submission of no more than 3,000 words, specifically on:
The decline of bus services in rural areas, and the impact that this is having on residents and growth.
The innovative practices authorities have put in place that could be scaled up across the country.
The additional powers or levers that would make the biggest difference to provision of bus services in county/rural areas.
Click here to read more about the launch of the inquiry. Follow the inquiry on twitter: @CountyAPPG.
The County APPG was established to act as an influential forum to raise county issues – and opportunities – in Parliament and around Westminster, and is currently chaired by Peter Aldous, the MP for Waveney.
The CCN is the national voice of England’s 36 county authorities. A cross-party organisation, CCN develops policy and commissions research on behalf of counties and provides the secretariat for the APPG.