On 4th June 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to use bus services.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, can the Minister expand on what she said about rural access? There is no point trying to encourage people to use buses where there are none. In parts of my diocese in the north of Yorkshire, to suggest that there may be increased funding or increased conversations does not change the fact that many people are isolated. Buses and transport need to be part of a holistic, integrated rural strategy that sees the various matters interconnected.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton: I completely agree with the right reverend Prelate when he talks about transport being integrated. So often we think about one particular sort of transport system and do not think about how it integrates into the rest of the community.
Turning back to his point about rural communities, it is a big challenge where you have isolated communities and it is not commercially viable to operate regular services into them. However, the Government have allocated £43 million from the Bus Services Operators Grant to rural local authorities. A particularly interesting project is the total transport pilot. It looks at rural communities that often have coaches, which might serve schools or take people to non-emergency doctors’ appointments, to see how we might also use them to help people to get around. These pilots are coming to an end and we will report on them soon.
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