Finding the right solutions
Are people asking for something that already exists?
A lack of awareness of the existing public transport services is a common issue, especially when individuals use a private vehicle for the majority of their trips. People are often unaware of the frequency and destinations of the existing services in their area and often wrongly assume rural public transport is slow or unreliable.
Producing a local travel information leaflet can raise awareness of destinations which can be accessed on local services and increase their patronage. For more details read the “How to produce an information leaflet” section, which includes example leaflets and a leaflet template.
It may be that other factors are deterring people from using existing transport services –broken street lighting, overgrown hedges or large puddles at bus stops. Timely reporting of a problem allows it to be quickly address. To report an issue visit the Report Road Problems web pages.
Could an existing transport service be expanded or changed to meet transport needs?
Commercial operators: Sometimes a commercial operator may be able to divert main road bus services at certain times of day to accommodate a rural community, if a demand for such a service can be well demonstrated and it fits in with the operators other priorities.
Community Transport operators: Community Transport operators in Hampshire run schemes which tend to cater for a specific need, including Dial a Ride, Call and Go and Wheels to Work services. Setting up any of these services would be very expensive and time consuming for a parish to commit to. However it may be possible for you to contribute financially towards the cost of expanding a scheme or adapt an existing service so that your residents have greater opportunity to use these services. Hampshire County Council’s Community Transport website (see below) has full details of all of these services.
You may have a Dial a Ride Scheme operating in your area, use of which is restricted to those who are physically unable to use a conventional service. It may be possible to work with the local Dial a Ride operator to convert the scheme into a Call and Go scheme which would allow those who live more than 400m from a bus stop or those without appropriate bus services to also use the scheme.
An annual contribution of £2,000 to £3,000 may be able to ensure an extra weekly travel opportunity for parishioners.
You may be able to contribute towards purchasing a moped specifically for use by the young people in your parish.
Hampshire County Council: Hampshire County Council pays for the majority of taxishares which operate across the county. It may be possible to extend an existing taxishare scheme, at a lower cost, than setting up a new one.
Could you provide transport which links to an existing transport service?
By considering your community in the context of a larger transport network, it may be more cost effective and cater for a wider variety of transport needs if your transport service is designed to connect with other transport services. For example, providing transport to a local train station or a main road bus stop can potentially provide access to multiple destinations, and reduce the distance and therefore cost of running your transport service. If you are creating a linking service to a bus route it is wise to talk to the operator of that service in case they have plans to change the timing or route of their service. Making a transport connection can be a worry for some, so reliability and well scheduled transport is essential for linking services to work well.
Promotion of other modes of travel
Promoting other transport modes, such as walking or cycling, through increasing awareness of cycle routes or improving footpaths, may be the best option for some short journeys. You could also consider investing in cycle storage or other infrastructure which promotes these alternative modes of transport.
Hampshire County Council has web pages on walking, rights of way and cycling in Hampshire. These pages include maps and leaflets of walking and cycling routes, and allow problems with footpaths and cycle tracks to be reported. Hampshire County Council has a Countryside Access Fund which may be able to help Parish Councils who are looking to improve access for walking.
The Hampshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is developing a toolkit that will look at some of the alternative modes of travel. This is expected to be available in January 2012.
Can key services be brought into your community?
If there is a desire for transport for a particular purpose or activity, bringing a service into the community could be a cost effective alternative to transporting people out of your Parish.
Key services which can be brought into a rural area can be anything from supermarket deliveries, keep fit classes or a mobile library. For example, a yoga instructor may be willing to come and run a class if they can hire a venue at a reasonable rate and get enough people to pre-pay to demonstrate their commitment. A local butcher, who attends farmers markets, may be prepared to visit for an hour a fortnight and sell his products if the local community is committed to supporting his outlet and the Parish Council supports the application for a street vendors licence.
There have been some creative solutions to providing services within smaller communities, including post office facilities in churches or pubs, or the creation of community shops (see web link examples below).
Could you work with key service providers to co-ordinate service provision and transport?
If there is poor transport provision to a key service, you may want to discuss the difficulties some community members have in accessing the service with the service provider. For example, some hospital services (such as blood tests) are provided on a first come first served basis, however, if a long wait will result in an individual missing their return transport, priority may be able to be given to these patients. Similarly, appointment slots on a certain day may be given allocation priority to those using a specific transport service if it only operates one day a week.
If you are planning to create a new transport service, are you able to work with other parishes to provide this service?
There may be similar needs in neighbouring Parishes, and these parishes may be keen to set up a similar service to your own parish. Working together to create a cross boundary services may be more cost effective and be a better use of resources.
Documents and web links
Further information on Hampshire County Council’s Community Transport services
Examples of creative solutions to providing services within smaller communities: