A paper published by Bus Users UK argues that changing lifestyles, flexible working, funding cuts and the regulatory environment are forcing rural bus services into decline.

Available at bususers.org, Rural Buses: Reversing the Decline highlights that, in rural areas in particular, buses have provided a lifeline to education opportunities, employment, health care and social services.

Over the past two decades, however, these services have experienced what Bus Users UK calls a perfect storm of rising operational costs, increasing regulation (particularly for community transport providers) funding cuts from local authorities and a lack of competition to run services.

The report calls for:

  • reform of the Traffic Commissioners to have regard for the interests of bus users

  • modernisation of the role of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to make it more accessible and user-friendly

  • a trial for new models of rural bus provision built on community interest or co-operative principles with all regulations suspended for the duration of the trial, with the exception of safety regulations

  • local authorities to take a more consumer-led approach to transport

  • local partnership working to be a requirement between local authorities and bus operators.

According to Chief Executive of Bus Users UK Claire Walters: ā€œCreative 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.ā€

She explained that the report sets out a 10-point plan to regenerate the industry and ensure that rural transport meets the needs of local communities.

Last reviewed 4 July 2019