Report savages rural public transport

By John HowardA NEW report has warned transport in rural areas often does not work and is letting residents down.Public transport and opportunities for walking and cycling were largely poor and disjointed, said the report, published today by Transport 2000, the Countryside Agency and Citizen's Advice.

By John Howard

A NEW report has warned transport in rural areas often does not work and is letting residents down.

Public transport and opportunities for walking and cycling were largely poor and disjointed, said the report, published today by Transport 2000, the Countryside Agency and Citizen's Advice.

It added there was no-one in overall control of how different transport policies came together in a particular area.


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The report looked at rural transport in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden, and found people in some of those countries had more transport choices than residents of rural Britain.

The report, Rural Transport Futures, suggested a number of improvements, including increased funding to provide more services and bring down fares.

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Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of rural charity Suffolk ACRE, said he would like to see a smarter approach to pubic transport.

He suggested a centralized booking system for buses, with people calling up the day before to book a seat and running a service only where there was demand day by day.

John Matthissen, an agent for the Green Party and a Mid Suffolk Friends of the Earth campaigner, said there was little alternative to owning a car for people living in the countryside.

He would like to see cycle networks established rather than isolated stretches of cycle routes.

Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph said: “People in rural Britain very often do not have the transport they deserve.

“They are let down by poor quality public transport, walking and cycling that's difficult or dangerous, rising traffic congestion and little alternative to owning a car.”

Citizens Advice chief executive, David Harker, added: “Our evidence shows that poor public transport makes it difficult for people to get to work, the shops, post offices and hospitals because of expensive or infrequent public transport.”

Speaking about the report, residents living in Mendlesham, near Stowmarket, were critical of the public transport in their community.

The villagers felt the bus service was poor and there was little opportunity to cycle in the community because of the amount of lorries on the roads.

Andrew Stringer, the Mid Suffolk district councillor for the village, said: “Public transport is not very good at all for Mendlesham, it is pretty poor and we are badly-served.

“People tell me it is not too good and that they only get one bus a day, if they are lucky, not including school buses.

“You also get stuck behind huge trucks in the village and the 40ft lorries discourage people using bicycles who get in their cars to be safe.

“We need a good public transport system - once that is there, people will use it. Until it's there, they won't.”

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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