The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Winning The Rural Vote: Unlocking Rural Transport Potential

In our Winning the Rural Vote Campaign this week, we turn our focus to a cornerstone of rural vitality and accessibility: Rural Transport. As a general election draws nearer, it's pivotal to highlight the crucial role transportation plays in knitting together the social, economic, and health fabric of rural communities. This issue extends beyond convenience, embodying the right to equitable access to services and opportunities.

Rural Transport: Beyond Connectivity
Transportation in rural locales is more than a matter of getting from A to B—it's about ensuring that all residents have the means to access employment, healthcare, education, and social activities. Despite the critical nature of these services, rural areas face daunting challenges such as sparse public transport services and disproportionate government funding compared to urban counterparts. The recent budget announcement, which includes a freeze and a continuation of a 5p cut in fuel duty, offers a nod towards easing transportation costs for car drivers, which is crucial in rural areas where reliance on personal vehicles is higher due to limited public transport options. Yet, this measure touches only the surface of the broader mobility challenges unique to rural settings.

Policy Landscape and Rural Mobility
The policy environment for rural transport has evolved from the deregulation of bus services to the more recent National Bus Strategy, each aiming to enhance service availability and affordability. However, achieving a truly inclusive and accessible rural transport network requires ongoing effort and refinement. The introduction of fare caps and the Rural Mobility Fund signal progress, but the distribution of resources and attention to all demographic segments remain areas for focused improvement.

The Rural Reality
Rural residents typically travel further and spend more time reaching essential services than their urban counterparts, often contending with limited public transport options. This situation has been further compounded by a decline in bus service mileage and the reduction of routes, underscoring the need for innovative solutions and sustained investment in rural mobility.

A Call to Action
Our campaign lays out clear policy recommendations for the short and long term, aimed at bridging the current gaps in rural transport services:

Addressing rural transport is a shared responsibility that demands action from all stakeholders. While the recent budget's approach to fuel duty provides temporary relief, our collective endeavour should aim at crafting a rural transport landscape that is sustainable, accessible, and equitable. By advocating for the strategic initiatives outlined, we champion a future where rural transport empowers communities, bolsters economic growth, and reduces environmental impact.

Your Voice Matters
The Winning The Rural Vote campaign is committed to amplifying the importance of rural transport in the national dialogue. We invite policymakers, community leaders, and citizens to join us in this critical conversation, pushing for policies that ensure no rural resident is left behind in our journey towards comprehensive and sustainable mobility solutions. Together, we can create a roadmap to a more connected and resilient rural future.

Click on the chapters below to explore more context and data that bolster the Winning The Rural Vote campaign's requests

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