Following the Future of mobility: urban strategy published in March 2019, the Department for Transport (DfT), are now seeking views and evidence on what could be incorporated into a Future of Transport: rural strategy.
This consultation document is structured in 3 sections:
The consultation period began on 24 November 2020 and will run until 16 February 2021. Please make sure that your response reaches us before the closing date.
You can respond to this call for evidence in 3 ways:
Future of Transport Rural Strategy Call for Evidence
Department for Transport
Zones 1-3, Floor 3, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
Due to remote working for the foreseeable future, we cannot accept hard copies of responses, but please let us know if you are unable to respond by email.
When responding, please state whether you are responding as an individual or representing the views of an organisation. If responding on behalf of a larger organisation, please make it clear who the organisation represents and, where applicable, how the views of members were assembled.
Please note that we do not expect you to submit evidence or views in response to every question listed if not applicable.
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Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
If you want information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory code of practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence.
Given this, it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the DfT.
The DfT will process your personal data under data protection law and, in the majority of circumstances, this will mean that your data will not be disclosed to third parties.
If you do provide any information that allows an individual to be identified, we may use this information to notify you once the summary of responses is available.
The purpose of this call for evidence is to inform our work on the Future of Transport: rural strategy. Any personal information provided will only be kept for this call for evidence and will not be shared with anyone else.
This consultation is covered by the rules of Crown copyright, which the DfT and the UK government adhere to.
We are on the cusp of a revolution in the way that people and goods move around. Multiple changes are happening at the same time, including:
These changes are happening fastest in urban areas. The government published the Future of mobility: urban strategy in March 2019, setting out the approach we will take to seize the opportunities from these changes while managing potential undesired effects.
As part of our plan to level up our regions, and building on initiatives such as the Rural Mobility Fund, we want to ensure the benefits of transport innovation reach all parts of the country. This includes those rural communities and towns that have been left behind as a result of the lack of economic, educational and social opportunities, which flow directly from having good transport connectivity.
We, therefore, plan to publish a Future of Transport: rural strategy specifically setting out how innovations and technological developments in transport can be harnessed in rural communities. The aim of this strategy is to set out how central government, local authorities, communities and the private sector can influence how these trends emerge so they can best benefit rural areas by increasing the range and choice of transport options, and helping to deliver on transport decarbonisation.
Within this consultation document, we use the term ‘rural’ in line with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) rural classifications. We expect the strategy to cover rural communities and small towns across the length of the country, ranging from towns like Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria down to the villages of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.
Given the different population structures and density and different travelling patterns and geography, the opportunities from innovation in transport could be different in rural areas, which may necessitate a different approach to that taken in urban areas:
While only 27% of those aged over 65 live in predominantly rural areas, the average age of the rural population is 43, whereas the average age of people living in predominantly urban areas is 38[footnote 1].
The population aged 65 years and over is projected to grow by around 50% in both urban and rural areas between 2016 and 2039, but the younger population is projected to grow by 8% in urban areas, with virtually no increase in the younger population in rural areas. This will result in an increase in the ratio of older to younger people overall, but it will be particularly notable in rural areas[footnote 2].
People living in the most rural areas rely more on private cars, which accounted for 76% of all their trips. In comparison, 52% of trips by residents of urban conurbations were made by private car.[footnote 3]
On average people in cities and towns travel approximately 40% more miles walking and cycling than those in rural villages and hamlets.[footnote 4]
Innovation in rural areas has the potential to open new opportunities for a range of transport services. This could create greater choice for how people in rural areas move, as well as creating new opportunities for journeys that do not currently exist. There is also the potential to radically transform how goods are delivered in rural areas. Innovating how people and goods move around also has the potential to help meet our ambitions for decarbonisation, achieving net-zero by 2050.
There is a risk that rural areas are not able to harness new technology and innovation to address the needs of people that live in rural areas without further action. For example, they might fall further behind if development and implementation of the technology does not take account of the needs of people who live in rural areas because operators and innovators consider services may not be commercially viable over the long term.
In this section, we set out some of the current trends facing the transport ecosystem in rural areas, followed by our assessment of the developments in innovation that have the potential to significantly change how people and goods move around.
Rural areas face a range of mobility concerns which can lead to social and economic issues.
Residents in rural areas continue to be dependent on private cars for mobility. Private car use remains higher in more rural areas. This is partly associated with older residents and partly due to the reduced availability of alternatives.
In many smaller towns, residents have few options for convenient and affordable public transport and risk being cut off from basic services if they don’t have access to a car.
There also tends to be a lack of active travel infrastructure, including safe walking and cycling routes between towns and villages, increasing the reliance on the private car.
This, in turn, creates an assumption that rural communities need to be designed with the private car in mind, and has created a lower demand for public transport services.
Infrequent and sometimes declining public transport can make it difficult for people travelling even relatively short distances to access social and medical services. This can lead to particular difficulties for the elderly or less mobile in accessing health services, and limit opportunities for young people to become socially mobile.
However, at the same time how we access goods and services is changing, with an increasing prevalence of online shopping and – particularly following COVID-19 – increasing availability of online services, such as GP appointments.
Limited transport options can also lead to difficulties accessing workplaces.
The limited public transport service in rural areas is also serving as a barrier to growth and productivity gains for local businesses.
Existing and emerging business needs could be drivers of change for innovative transport.
Lack of transport options is also a key factor in exacerbating isolation and deteriorating mental health. Social isolation and loneliness can lead to a decline in health and wellbeing, and even an increase in premature deaths.
Rural areas have a unique set of circumstances that can exacerbate the social isolation of older residents, in particular, leading to poor health, loss of independence and lower quality of life.
Do you have any evidence for the issues mentioned?
Do you think there are other issues facing rural areas that we should consider in the strategy?
Against this backdrop, technological and business innovation has the potential to transform how people and goods move around rural areas – both now and in the coming decades.
Here, we give an overview of the main trends, benefits, challenges and uncertainties of their impacts. These trends are interconnected and will influence each other.
Trends in the uptake of e-bikes along with digitalisation (for example, mapping) have the potential to increase the use of active transport modes.
E-bikes can be particularly effective in semi-rural areas for last-mile trips[footnote 5] connecting to mass transit[footnote 6], where the last mile can be considerably longer than a mile, and potentially through hilly terrain.
Potentially, e-bikes could also contribute to improved age and/or gender balance, as well as enabling more cycling by disabled people.
Increased data on walking and cycling routes with digital-mapping tools and applications can also help open active routes that can otherwise go unknown, encouraging more people to use active journeys where possible.
Micromobility is the use of small mobility devices, designed to carry 1 or 2 people or last-mile deliveries, such as e-scooters and e-cargo bikes.
There is considerable enthusiasm for the potential for shared e-scooters to assist in changing behaviour from driving to multi-modal travel. Shared e-scooter trials are currently underway in Tees Valley, Norfolk and Great Yarmouth, among other places.
Commonly, more than one mode or service is required to complete a journey in rural areas. Ensuring reliability in transitioning between modes is essential, as a break in the chain could result in a person being stranded for a considerable amount of time.
As more accurate and live data on services become available, there is an opportunity to link different services together to create a more seamless experience for the user. Digital platforms such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) allow users to plan, book and pay for their travel, and other journey planning applications provide travellers with information on linking journeys over multiple modes.
We are also seeing innovation in infrastructure to support the linking of services such as mobility hubs. These co-locate different modes and services together, providing safe, accessible and comfortable waiting areas. Mobility hubs can also reduce the need to travel long distances by co-locating some community services, such as GP appointments and parcel lockers, with transport modes.
We also expect to see a significant increase in demand for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles as conventional vehicles are phased out. Rural communities have unique and different electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure needs compared with urban areas and addressing those needs will be a crucial part of the government’s strategy for EV charging infrastructure.
With increasing data and digital capability, we are seeing the emergence of new digitally-enabled models of transport provision, including demand-responsive transport (DRT). Such platforms can be flexible in the services they provide to meet demand, increasing their commercial viability, while providing greater convenience for users. New models of ‘feeder services’, for example, shared taxis and DRT, could be trialled in rural areas to determine whether they can meet some of the needs of people at lower costs – both to individuals and communities.
Digital applications for car and ride-sharing can also improve the consumer experience and make these services easier to use. This could have particular benefit for employers with large numbers of staff driving to work in business parks or other out-of-town zones. There are financial, logistical and decarbonisation benefits from developing shared transport options, such as commuter shuttles, or people sharing privately owned cars.
Better data and digital connectivity can enable an improved understanding of the market potential for more agile mobility services (for example, DRT).
Big data is being used in private transport, public transport and freight to enable dynamic journey management and planning. Increased data can also provide travellers with more information upon which to base decisions around which mode to choose, in line with priorities such as cost, speed or health benefits.
We are starting to see new modes emerge to transport people and goods. For example, drone delivery can assist in rural and semi-rural areas.
Fully automated drone deliveries were originally part of Solent Transport’s successful bid to create a Future Transport Zone. A centrepiece of that proposal was to create an automated drone air traffic control system to supply medical supplies across the Solent, saving time and cost, and reducing emissions.
For the first time in the UK, a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operated at an airport concurrent with manned aircraft. Solent Transport will now develop a smaller, fully automated drone with the vertical take-off and landing capability.
Rural areas may have a first-mover advantage in some emerging aviation mobility technologies, which could make investments in drone landing spaces and secure 5G-connected drone corridors a realistic option for servicing more remote locations. As an island nation, there is also the potential for new zero-emission and automated vessels for transporting goods to coastal communities. COVID-19 has led to an acceleration in research and trialling of automated freight delivery around the world.
We are also starting to see examples of increasing automation of passenger services as well. Small autonomous and electric aircraft may be able to move goods and people efficiently in low volumes, particularly in island communities.
Self-driving vehicles are also being developed to operate in rural environments. For example, Japan has recently trialled self-driving shuttles in rural settings for older people to increase mobility. In the UK, the Human Drive pilot project completed a 230-mile self-navigated journey from Cranfield to Sunderland that covered semi-rural and urban areas.
Many rural communities have strong local identities, fostering strong community ties and support. It will be important to recognise and harness this community spirit and understand how it can facilitate innovation in transport services in and for rural communities.
Home-working and home-based businesses are an increasingly significant feature of rural economies. This includes businesses in traditional rural sectors, such as agriculture and tourism, but increasingly in creative and knowledge-intensive service sectors too.
The changing composition of rural economies has seen a shift towards increasing numbers of businesses that are selling goods and services beyond their local areas. Innovations can help rural businesses to reach markets more quickly via improved transport connections.
What examples do you have of the transport trends in rural areas of:
Do you think there are other trends in innovation we haven’t included?
We want to be able to harness these opportunities to encourage the availability of a greater range of transport services across rural areas.
We recognise that some of these opportunities could be available over the short term, while others will be developed over the next decade.
We want to create the conditions to enable these near-term opportunities to be grasped while ensuring that the needs of rural areas are embedded in longer-term technologies and services as they are developed.
In the Future of mobility: urban strategy, we provided a set of principles to underpin our approach to transport innovation in urban areas. There are a number of these principles that we think are also relevant to guide the application of innovation in rural areas, as well as to ensure that this innovation can meet wider social and economic policy objectives, and limit any unintended consequences.
While building on these principles, we acknowledge that there are different market forces within rural areas, along with different mobility needs; therefore, it is appropriate that government takes a bespoke approach to transport innovation in rural areas.
One example of a rural-specific principle could be around the promotion of shared journeys. While lower population densities in rural areas might mean that mass transit is not always an option, there is potential to increase the number of shared journeys – whether within a shared car or through DRT. Such services can help reduce the carbon footprint of journeys, as well as provide another travel option to increase accessibility within rural areas.
In facilitating innovation in urban mobility for freight, passengers and services, the government’s approach will be underpinned as far as possible by the following principles:
Do you think the Future of Transport: rural strategy should include the above principles? Which additional principles would you like to see in the strategy?
Beyond a principles-based approach to innovation in rural areas, we also recognise the importance of testing, trialling and governance to enable new technologies to emerge.
Creating a safe environment for testing and trialling new technologies is important for:
This can also help prove commercial cases for investors, and identify and respond to any regulatory or other challenges to enable the roll-out of successful projects on a larger scale. It can also aid central and local government in understanding how the supply side of the rural mobility market might be stimulated and where there may be a case for government action.
In addition to testing new and novel innovation, there’s a role for testing and trialling proven models within urban areas to understand how these can be adapted for rural areas.
We’re currently considering the role of regulation in enabling trials of new modes through our Future of Transport regulatory review.
There are several layers of governance within our transport framework. Many powers relating to transport and land use planning are devolved to local and combined authorities. We want to see local and regional authorities equipped to shape the development of new technologies within their places, aligning to local needs and identities, and supporting local growth and development.
We recognise that central government has a role to play in ensuring there is a flexible, innovation-friendly regulatory framework, and that local leaders have a strong role in decisions on transport needs and deployment of new services in their areas. Government can also help shape the conditions for the private sector to invest in rural areas.
Are there specific considerations for testing and trialling new technologies in rural areas that you think we should consider?
In your view, what should the role of:
be in encouraging innovation in rural areas?
Do you think government can encourage the private sector to develop innovative new transport services in rural areas?
How do you think government should encourage the private sector?
Do you have any other comments on this call for evidence?
A summary of responses will be published within 3 months of the call for evidence ending.
Analysis of responses will inform our work to develop a Future of Transport: rural strategy over the coming months.
The Big Tent is a VCSE (Voluntary Community Social Enterprise) alliance of emotional wellbeing and mental health providers for children and young people aged 8-18 within Somerset, operating under a quality and safety assurance process. The Big Tent, funded by Clinical Commissioning Groups and facilitated by Young Somerset, is designed to broker the best local solution for a child / young person’s needs, making it easy for them, their parents / carers, and professionals to access support.
The Big Tent website provides an online space for children and young people and their parents and guardians to know what wellbeing support is available for them in their area. They can navigate the support based on their feelings, type of support, location, age to ensure that they can discover support options which are suitable for them.
The Big Tent website also offers a professional area with details of upcoming training events, wellbeing campaigns and more to support professionals about how best to support children and young people.
You will be able to find the website on line from 30 November by going to www.somersetbigtent.org.uk
A co-ordinated network of employment and skills support for individuals, employers and businesses seeking support and information in relation to employment, skills, careers and apprenticeships is being rolled out across Somerset under the Step Up Somerset brand to boost existing provision in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
This includes a new one-stop-shop website www.stepupsomerset.org.uk which will provide support for individuals who are job hunting, seeking training in new industries or working to strengthen their skills by providing details of employment and skills services and resources. Those who find themselves at risk of or being made redundant can find a full range of support including help with reskilling, financial assistance and wellbeing information.
Employers will be able to gather information on redundancy support for their workforce, staff development and offering apprenticeships or industry placements to young people. The website will also provide a platform for promoting any recruitment or development events available to attend.
For anyone without internet access further one-to-one help can also be provided via a single phone helpline: 0300 790 6275.
|Apply now for 2021 school places|
Somerset parents are being urged to apply for school places online and in time.
Whether your child is starting school for the first time, or transferring to their next school, applications need to be made through Somerset County Council’s website: www.somerset.gov.uk/admissions
The deadline for parents to submit applications for secondary school places is Saturday, 31 October 2020. This applies to all children moving from primary to secondary school, or middle to upper school, in September 2021.
The deadline for primary school place submissions is Friday, 15 January 2021. This applies to all children starting school for the first time in September 2021, as well as those moving between infant and junior or first and middle school.
Although reminder text messages and letters will be sent to parents on the Council’s database who have not yet applied, the responsibility for getting applications in on time lies with parents and guardians.
Councillor Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education and Transformation at Somerset County Council, said: “Due to Coronavirus, many schools are holding events or promoting information online rather than traditional open days. I urge parents and carers to check schools’ websites or social media for further information. This can help them decide where they would like to attend next year and which three schools they will include in their application.
“It’s an important decision and I would urge everyone to submit three preferences, including their local school as one of those preferences. In recent years, some applications have only included one preference for a non-local school.
“If demand is high for that single school, it can mean that students and parents must wait longer for a confirmed placement at a different school, making the experience all together more stressful. Once you have chosen your three schools, it is essential that applications are submitted before the deadline to avoid risking missing out on a preferred place.
“31 October is the deadline for those transferring to secondary or upper schools next year and 15 January for those starting primary school for the first time. I’d encourage all students, parents and guardians to start looking at what is involved and which schools they are interested in now.”
All schools have been reminded of the application deadlines and asked to send information to parents within newsletters. As well as linking to an online application form, the webpage www.somerset.gov.uk/admissions holds a wealth of related information including a directory of schools, catchment areas and admissions policy.
Last year’s school admissions figures show that 98.27 per cent of the 5,660 Somerset children who entered primary school were offered one of their top three choices. 93.07 per cent received their first choice.
98.19 per cent of the 4,595 Somerset children going to secondary school were offered one of their top three choices. 93.56 per cent received their first choice.
The “Slinky” bus service has restarted in Somerset. Slinky is an accessible bus service for people who can’t use conventional transport.
Stogursey is to be serviced on a Wednesday only, provided by Mendip Community Transport. Somerset County Council will be monitoring the usage, depending on the take up, the service may be extended.
The phone number for users appears to be 01749 880948, but there is a form to be completed and sent back prior to a user booking the service. You can download the form from this link: Sedgemoor-Slinky-Registration form
Their website is not up to date as there are new leaflets to be produced outlining the areas covered, etc.
Hopefully we will be supplied with the updated information, but we would suggest any potential users make direct contact with Mendip Community Transport.
Contrary to their out of date website information Stogursey Parish is not being classed as West Somerset for this service, but “Sedgemoor South” and Mendip Community Transport cover Sedgemoor South.
The service can be used for a variety of purposes, including getting to health appointments, visiting friends and relatives, going shopping and as a link to other public transport.
You can use the Slinky bus if you do not have access to a public bus service, due either to location, or accessibility issues. The Slinky service can be used by people of all ages.
If you are eligible you will first need to register as a member of the scheme. You must fill in a registration form and return it to the booking office before you use the service for the first time.
You can then book a journey by contacting your booking office at least 24 hours before you want to travel. Trips can be booked up to two weeks in advance.
For journeys up to 3 miles
For journeys over 3 miles
There is a 50% fare for English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes on all SLINKY services within Somerset. You will need to show your pass every time you travel.
Half fares will be:
£1.30 for a single journey up to 3 miles – £2.00 return
£1.80 for a single journey over 3 miles – £2.50 return
Somerset Student County Tickets are also valid on Slinky services.