Liberal Democrats are calling for an evening weekend bus service for the Hoo Peninsula
By Alan Wells for Medway Liberal Democrats
Medway Liberal Democrats are calling on the Council for a late night bus service to the Hoo Peninsula and Grain. Residents have told us that such a service would be attractive to them, especially a service aimed at cinema times, a meal out in town, or visiting friends and family.
The priority for the future of rural buses should be targeted at preventing social isolation, with a strategic vision and a sense of social purpose for Medway's rural population, young and old. When buses were deregulated in the 1980s, councils were enabled to subsidise what they judged to be "socially necessary services" but there is no precise definition of this term and no obligation on councils to fund unprofitable (often rural) services.
Alan Wells, Spokesperson for Medway Liberal Democrats said " I have spoken to a number of villagers and being able to enjoy a night out and then get home safely without needing to drive is something many people have asked for. A new late night service would enable residents at the weekend to plan and enjoy more evenings out. It would also be a greener way to travel, and make it easier with current fuel prices, for people to be able to leave their car at home.
Friday and Saturday night services would also benefit Medway's late night economy, and provide vital social links for those who live on the Peninsula. The Peninsula needs a service that can be relied upon, with buses arriving on time and a service that can be trusted. It is essential that as people age, they can still get out, access local services and travel further afield if they want, for too many people in Medway's rural areas, frequent and reliable transport does not exist.
The irony is that free bus travel has been a significant success, and that a bus pass encourages holders to be more physically active. For those older people living in locations where buses no longer deliver a viable service they feel they can use, what's the use of having a bus pass, if it cannot be used to its full potential."
For young people in Medway's rural areas, they need an alternative to relying on a taxi service. As it costs more to run a car in the countryside, because of greater distances, less affluent members of the rural community are also more reliant on bus services.
For older people in Medway's rural areas, bus services provide a lifeline for many. For those without easy access to a car, having accessible and affordable public transport is vital to leading an active and independent life. Having bus services that are both free and readily available go hand in hand.
Medway's local transport planning should take into account the views and needs of Medway's rural residents. Where the public transport system does not fully serve the needs of people in the area, then there should be an expectation to provide financial support towards community transport or taxis. Where rural bus services do exist, they should be promoted and their use should be encouraged; to ensure that policies around community transport are 'rural proofed' and assessed for how they will work for rural people and places, thereby ensuring they are implemented fairly and effectively.