Rural settlements in the South West are home to 1.8 million residents, which is a third of our population. We recognise the current approach to rural mobility has not worked for many of our local communities and that the challenges they face from the lack of access to everyday services, affordability and limited choice are very real.
Those living in the most rural areas make 87% of their journeys by car. This leads to higher carbon emissions, while those without cars risk social isolation alongside higher levels of expenditure on transport.
Without investment in affordable, decarbonised and publicly available transport, a substantial proportion of the South West’s population and the economies they support will continue to be hindered by poor accessibility and connectivity, holding back not only rural areas but the region as a whole. Digital connectivity and mobile services are also key to enable more to be done without the need to travel.
South West Rural Mobility Strategy
Our strategy identifies an ambitious vision for the future of rural mobility and provides a set of proposals to achieve it. A wide range of potential interventions have been packaged into bundles focusing on the needs of different types of rural places – including rural towns, villages, hamlets and more isolated dwellings – to form the basis for the development of rural mobility pilots.
The key next steps in delivering this strategy will focus on developing these pilots into live trials of rural mobility in the South West. Following the publication of this strategy, Western Gateway STB, along with Peninsula Transport, will work to secure funding to support the development and delivery of the pilots.
To read the South West Rural Mobility Strategy click here.
Making the case for rural investment
Making the case for rural investment sets out the challenges facing England’s rural communities when it comes to funding and levelling up. Poor accessibility and connectivity leaves rural communities suffering social isolation and reduced opportunities, while high car dependency in rural areas along with a need to travel further to services exacerbates carbon emissions.
In this research undertaken by WSP for Western Gateway STB on behalf of all seven of England’s sub-national transport bodies, six areas of focus have been identified that could be transformational for mobility in rural England. The report suggests key interventions needed to bring about change in rural mobility investment, along with the roles government, local authorities and STBs should play in helping deliver these.
It is hoped ‘Making the case for rural investment’ will be a key document in aiding discussions between organisations about the transport challenges facing people living and working in rural communities across England and the need for investment.