Rail passengers across the North will face the risk of transport-related social exclusion (TRSE), shown through a report recently conducted via Transport for the North (TfN). The report suggests that 3.3 million people from across the North of England inhabit areas that hold a high risk of TRSE due to poor mobility and connectivity.
For this report, the TfN partnered with Social Research Associates and Temple to engage with over 3,000 members of the public and experts across the North to understand how the current transport system affects people in everyday life. A data tool was then developed to measure the risk of TRSE across England – analysing categories such as access to jobs, education, healthcare and key services, and the vulnerability of the population to social exclusion.
This study is the first of its kind in the UK, opening the door to new-found accessibility issues identification which has estimated that 3.3 million people in the North of England, or 21.3% of the population, are having detrimental affects to their opportunities due to limited public transport availability. Manufacturing, mining, and coastal communities seem to be the most concentrated areas of those affected, forcing the populous to become car dependent.
These connectivity issues must be combatted as they can catalyse a vicious cycle of poverty and isolation for those affected, especially for those already struggling with disabilities and caring responsibilities. The solutions for these issues come from transformation in quality, availability, and cost of local transport services.
New Prime Minister Liz Truss has given a glimpse of hope regarding further rail expansion through the North of England as she has championed the progression of Northern Powerhouse Rail, labelling the project “absolutely crucial for the future of the north of England”. As a Leeds native, Truss understands the poor connectivity in the North from a personal perspective, which will hopefully see her champion the cause in her new position.
Truss went on to say:
“I know how poor the transport is and, frankly, it’s not got much better since I was a teenager getting the bus into Leeds city centre.
“What I want to see is really fantastic rail services, better roads so people are able to get into work.”
Accompanying the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2’s continued expansion across the country will also help to solve the existing connectivity issues, however only time will tell if these projects can be implemented in a fashion that would see them operate at full potential.
Lord Patrick Mcloughlin, Chair of Transport for the North said:
“As the research shows, transport-related social exclusion impacts people’s lives on a daily basis. We’ve known for a long time about the lack of transport options for those living in the rural and urban fringes and the impact it has on them, but what is revealing is the amount of people that TRSE is affecting.
“Over one in five people in the North are at risk of exclusion because of the limitations of transport options in their community. That is millions of people, many of whom are those with specific needs who rely on public transport to get to work, to go to medical appointments or to just see friends and family. This issue is holding the region back and must be addressed if we are to achieve our full potential.
“I truly believe that transport has the ability to transform people and places. It’s not just about getting from point A to B – it’s about connections: allowing communities to be sustainable and to grow; giving young people the chance to make the most of opportunities on offer; enabling older people to remain engaged and active, with a reduced risk of social isolation and loneliness.
“This report shows the level of commitment that we need to see if the levelling up agenda is to come to fruition, we need to see significant investment in local public transport across the North of England to ensure that those people who really need a working transport system will get it.”
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