MPs’ report says voluntary CT schemes cannot substitute for bus cuts

Expectations for the expansion of voluntary Community Transport (CT) schemes, to fill gaps left after supported bus cuts, are too great, warns the Transport Select Committee in a report Passenger Transport In Isolated Communities. .

The Committee challenges the Department for Transport’s (DfT) assertion that CT schemes run by volunteers can compensate for decreased bus services.

“We recognise their value but many CT schemes are tiny and only serve particular groups. We believe that central Government and local authorities are being unrealistic if they expect voluntary CT projects to compensate for decreased bus services,” says Committee Chair, Louise Ellman MP.

The cross-party Committee warns that neglect of these services will reduce access to education, employment, health and other essential services.

MPs also highlight how ‘isolated communities’ are frequently in urban as well as rural areas and island settings.

Adds Ms Ellman: “Policy makers sometimes equate ‘isolated’ with ‘rural’ or island communities, but we found that some urban and suburban areas have inadequate passenger transport.

“The Department for Transport (DfT) should draft a definition of ‘isolated communities’ for use across central and local government to target scarce resources in ways that reach all types of isolated community.

“We reiterate our long-held concern that subsidised bus services continue to disappear as funding is cut.”

MPs highlight the need for ‘total transport’ – the pooling of existing transport assets to deliver a broader range of services.

“If, for example, hospital transport was combined with local bus services, it might revolutionise services for isolated communities,” said Ms Ellman. “We want to see the DfT test that concept by co-ordinating large-scale pilot schemes.”

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