MP calls for more joined-up rail and bus services

CJL
26 Mar 2024
Richard Foord standing in front of a blurred railway sign

Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has raised the issues of repeated delays on Devon’s buses and urged the Government to help improve the coordination of rail and bus services, to ensure students have reliable travel options.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday (21st March), Mr Foord – a regular bus user himself – highlighted the challenges facing pupils trying to get to and from college due to unreliable buses, with some failing to appear altogether.

Because of the rural nature of Devon, many bus services run long routes on infrequent timetables, with some operating one bus an hour or fewer. This means any delay or breakdown can have a huge impact.

It also means that a bus not turning up can lead to people missing vital railway connections, further compounding their travel woes. This is a big issue for students seeking to commute to college in Exeter, who rely on being able to catch one of the scarce early services.

Mr Foord, the Liberal Democrat MP for much of Mid- and East Devon, also highlighted that doing so will benefit parents as well as pupils. When buses don’t turn up, it is often parents who are called on to step-in and ferry their children to the nearest railway station, making them late to work themselves.

The Tiverton & Honiton MP is urging the Transport Secretary to do more to support rural bus services and ensure that people across Mid- and East Devon have regular and reliable routes that enable them to travel with confidence, especially at peak times.

Richard Foord MP said:

“Anyone who lives or works in a rural area knows the pain of waiting ages in the cold at a bus stop, only for no bus to ever round the corner. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially for people trying to get to work, school, or college in the early morning.

“In areas like ours the buses are not reliable as they need to be. This can have a huge impact, particularly on those trying to make a connecting train.

“The huge distances between places also means that if you are not able to use public transport it can take a long time to complete your journey by other means. This can trap many people, particularly older people and those without cars, in their local area.

“This is particularly hard on parents, who can often have to turn up late to work due to having to run their children to the nearest railway station or to college when the bus doesn’t show up. This isn’t good enough and we need action to address it.

“That is why I am urging the Government to step up to the plate and work constructively with MPs like myself and with Stagecoach South West, so we can support our rural bus services properly and ensure we have a functioning bus network that meets the needs of local people.”

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