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June 19 2019
By Jessamy Chapman

Watchdog makes 10-point plan to save the rural bus

Bus Users UK calls for reform of TCs, DVSA and community transport to reverse rural bus decline

Changing lifestyles, flexible working, funding cuts and the regulatory environment are to blame for the decline of rural bus services, says Bus Users UK.

Social changes in travel patterns, increased regulatory and legislative burdens and lack of competition have led to a drop of 6% in rural bus mileage and greater transport poverty, it says.

The watchdog has published its findings in a report called Rural Buses: Reversing the Decline, along with a 10-point plan to regenerate the industry.

It calls for reform of the Traffic Commissioners to have regard for the interests of bus users, for the role of the DVSA to be modernised, for local authorities to take a more consumer-led approach to transport, and for local partnership working between authorities and operators to be a requirement.

It also calls for lower barriers of entry into the industry for new operators, community transport reform, and a trial for new models of rural bus provision built on community interest.

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, says: “Creative and innovative solutions to the rural transport crisis are urgently needed, but will only be possible with reform of the bodies and the regulatory environment that govern it.”

Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Graham Vidler says: “CPT welcomes Bus Users’ recognition of the vital role that buses play in keeping rural communities connected, and their supporting 10-point plan reveals a number of shared industry objectives. 

“As outlined in Bus Users’ plan, CPT looks forward to playing its part and continuing to work constructively with Government at all levels – and in partnership with local authority and industry partners – to find new and imaginative ways of keeping people connected and meeting the needs of passengers right across the country.”

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