Skip to main content

Rural Transport

Volume 941: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a further statement on rural transport.

What rural transport needs now is three things—finance, basic stability and imaginative development. Government policies aim to provide the finance by a £15 million increase in annual provisions for bus services outside the conurbations, the stability by requiring shire county councils to prepare and give effect to a statutory public transport plan. As for imaginative development, this must be mainly for local initiative but our proposals for community buses and social car schemes will be of great help.

I appreciate the efforts that have been made by Ministers, but is my hon. Friend aware hat my constituents are extremely perturbed at the Trent Bus Company asking for a further 12 per cent. Increase—the fifth increase in just over two years, bringing the total increase to 55 per cent.? In order to ameliorate such situations, could he, in addition to the local initiatives that he hopes to encourage, urgently investigate reports that at least one of the national bus companies has managed to save money for itself and its customers by the imaginative and flexible use of routing and timing?

Order. We are getting back to long supplementary questions. I hope that we shall have shorter supplementaries and shorter replies.

I am indeed aware of what the National Bus Company is doing in market analysis and making route changes which enable it to provide a very good service at a cheaper cost.

Will the Government introduce national concessionary bus fares? If not, will they at least implement the promise given to two councils that they may have their own schemes?

The NBC is considering the introduction of concessionary fares on an experimental basis in certain areas, though it does not yet have full results of the experiments.

In his consideration of county transport plans, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of rural railway services and try to ensure that when county plans are drawn up the Government do not threaten to withdraw their support because of the cost? Is he aware that in inclement weather, for example, it can be vital to have such links open?

I agree that railways have a clear rôle to play in this respect, but I am distinguishing between what we are proposing in the county public transport plans and our proposals for discussion on local railway plans.