The Commission for Rural Communities has published five studies putting the spotlight on transport challenges facing rural areas, ranging from accessibility to key services, the effects of technological change and implications of road pricing.
Rural people travel around 10,000 miles each year compared with around 7,000 for all residents, and use of cars is significantly higher in rural areas. With a continuing decline in local services, rural residents need to travel greater distances, and because of significant gaps in public transport much more of their travel is by car. In addition, rising fuel prices are hitting rural areas hardest, especially less well-off households where a higher proportion of income goes on essentials including transport costs.
Greater car use in rural areas also contributes to higher overall carbon production rate per person than in urban areas. The studies provide a much-needed reminder of the critical transport challenges that face rural communities and the urgent need to find new solutions. More efficient and environmentally beneficial ways for rural people to move around in rural areas now need to be found. Community collaboration must play a crucial part.
The studies argue that the government reports about long-term links between transport, sustainable development and climate change largely ignore rural issues, notably how emission reductions will impact on rural areas.
For people in rural communities without a car there is the potential for worsening isolation and social exclusion.
The studies are available from CRC.