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A new government bus strategy. Does it do enough?

Robin Webster

How does it sit with the government roadbuilding programme?

The government has announced a £3bn investment in the country’s bus services.  The detail of what they claim to be a “levelling up” agenda should however be much, much higher and ensure that rural public transport does not once again get left behind.

The fact that so many people tell us that you need a car to live in the countryside is just not right. Why should access to jobs and training, visiting friends and family or just enjoying leisure time in the countryside be reliant on a car?

We’ve been calling for bus provision that truly connects our countryside communities. Right now, our towns and villages are seeing their young people drain away to reach opportunities they cannot access where they grew up, while older residents’ horizons are shrunk by a transport curfew on their social and economic live.

Will Wiltshire’s rural villages be sufficiently connected to their local towns to be able to say they no longer rely on a car?

Our towns and villages need committed, long-term funding to deliver a comprehensive bus network for the whole county, with a reliable service for every community. Countries like Germany and Switzerland are already showing this is possible.

The government insists that it is following a “build back better” agenda.

Will it deliver this so that rural communities and businesses can thrive?  Will properly subsidised regular bus services be part of it?

How can the government state that it has a planned £27bn roadbuilding programme, whose resulting carbon emissions would make the strategy incompatible with climate crisis commitments whilst giving us sprawling, car dependent housing estates that add to traffic jams, air pollution and carbon emissions? Why, with all the talk about encouraging walking, cycling and bus use are we getting housebuilding in places that are not connected by streets to our towns, and roads without bus priority lanes to modern transport interchanges making public transport the easy choice for longer journeys?

Two transport experts, Phil Goodwin from UCL, and Jillian Anable from the University of Leeds have testified to the high court in an action brought by Transport Action Network (TAN) that the carbon emissions from the planned roadbuilding programme will be 100 times greater than the government has stated.

Our vision for regular, reliable and efficient rural bus services could be paid for by scrapping the government’s environmentally damaging and unnecessary road building plans.



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