Transport needs assessment highlights need for funding in rural Northumberland from new combined authority

A new report has highlighted the disparity in public transport between Northumberland’s rural and urban areas.
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The transport needs assessment detailed the vital role that public and community transport systems play in keeping Northumberland residents healthy as well providing access to jobs and socialising.

It identifies the currently available transport provision in the county, as well as the needs of the population and the current gap between the two.

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Speaking to the Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board last Thursday, public health trainee at Northumberland County Council Kaat Marynissen outlined the challenges the county faces in providing for all its residents’ transport needs.

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson. Picture: NCJ MediaNorthumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson. Picture: NCJ Media
Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson. Picture: NCJ Media

She said: “We try to go into more depth in the north and west because the rurality and the sparseness makes transport more of an issue in those areas. General usage of bus services have been declining for some time and are still below pre-covid levels which is a significant challenge for the transport system.

“In some rural areas we have areas of high deprivation and low car access where transport links are a bit more sparse.”

She added: “Lots of rural areas don’t have access to evening services which impacts on employment in healthcare and hospitality as well as socialising.

“Frequent services are also in more urban areas. ”

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Miss Marynissen added that transport needed to have “reliability, reach, fexlibility, affordability and accessibility” to improve in the county.

The leader of the council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, said the new mayor of the North East Combined Authority would need to be lobbied to provide funding for public transport in the county.

He said: “I feel we will see change and improvement in public transport. The Northumberland Line will have a fantastic effect and the new combined authority will have greater powers and more money for transport.

“We need to make sure our being in the combined authority is such that this money will be spend in rural areas just as much as it is in the urban areas. It is up to us to make sure we have that strong voice, and I think we will do that.”