Last reviewed 10 May 2021

A new report produced by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) examines the impact rural bus cuts have had on mental health, isolation and social exclusion and sets out recommendations for future action.

A New Route for Bus Services, found — here, is part of the WI’s Get on Board campaign, launched last year, which calls for an increase in bus subsidies and partnership working to build services.

The survey on which the report is based was carried out between August and September 2020 and received 2493 responses. While it was open to all, including members of the public, 98% of respondents described themselves as female.

The data are supplemented by 142 case studies submitted by WI members across England and Wales in 2019.

Main findings

The report highlights the following key issues:

  • there is a need for a higher frequency of bus services in rural areas

  • bus services must be responsive to the needs of women

  • buses need to be better integrated with other transport networks

  • investment in more regular bus services is necessary to create a modal shift away from dependency on cars for environmental reasons.

Key recommendations

The NFWI is urging the Government to:

  • proceed with modernising the Bus Services Operator Grant (BSOG) and include giving additional funding to rural areas as well as new incentives for demand responsive transport

  • do more to ensure women are represented at decision-making levels for transport planning, including on forums such as Bus Advisory Boards and through the Transport for Wales Advisory Panels

  • ensure that Bus Service Improvement Plans prioritise the integration of bus services with rail and other transport networks in order to increase the appeal of buses as an alternative to car usage

  • include incentives for the take up of zero emission vehicles suitable for meeting the needs of all communities.