Government rural bus plans for England20th February 2007
In the latest issue of Buses, I spotted a piece in the news section about the government's plans for public transport provision in rural areas in England. The heart of the matter is in a discussion document titled Putting Passengers First. It does paint a bleak picture of bus usage trends in England, both in urban and in rural areas. The basic premise is that the decline in bus usage has stabilised for now but it will not remain like that in the current environment.
Among the measures that it considers is the relaxation of community transport restrictions in order to improve rural public transport. However, this does raise the spectre of conventional bus services getting axed. As someone without a car who likes walking in the countryside, I do find the concept of a timetabled bus service rather reassuring. With the new approach, there are a number of outstanding questions that I would like to see answered: how good will the information on service running times be and how user-friendly will it be. I feel that I need to see the answers to both of those questions before I would be convinced. Currently, I am in the middle of learning to drive so the uncertainty could have an unintended consequence, exactly the one that the proposals wanted to avoid at the outset.