Investment in Shropshire’s public transport has been poor and uneven. Improvements for urban residents have ignored or come at the price of worsening services in rural areas. Cuts undermine not just the lives of passengers who lose access to a bus, but of the economic development of the whole county. More than half of the residents of Shropshire live in villages and rural communities, but all depend on access to facilities and services in our county’s towns. Our public transport network should work for those who most need and use it, in particular the elderly, students and people on a low income. Without access to reliable public transport people and communities can become isolated with limited opportunities for residents. This can destroy communities and drive young people away. We want for Shropshire a well-designed and integrated public transport system linking towns and villages to hospitals, GP surgeries, schools and colleges, libraries and shops as well as social and economic opportunities is vital to healthy and economically successful rural communities as well as generate sustainable growth for the entire region. Access to a superior and reliable local public transport network with strong interregional links to hubs across Shropshire’s borders will lead to substantially increased usage and be key to delivering economic growth and prosperity, as well as forming a cornerstone of the county’s efforts to reduce our impact on the climate.
Our key policy points:
- We envisage a modern and highly integrated public transport network for Shropshire which can connect people and communities across the county.
- We would establish a Local Transport Authority to oversee the integration of bus and rail services and routes as well as their expansion where necessary.
- An integrated public transport network would ensure coordination between bus and rail timetables, with frequent services throughout the day and evenings to allow maximum utilisation of the networks potential and make it much easier to use.
- We would end the practice of withdrawing buses from rural routes to replace town services; and ensure investment benefits rural bus services at least as much as urban.
- We would design a network focused around hubs at key points around the county for transfer between bus and train services; connecting them with surrounding villages and communities.
- We will introduce a single branding for the counties public transport services, along with a unified ticketing system to allow for the easiest transfer between buses or trains even when operated by different companies.
- We seek to establish a regional rail franchise for Shropshire and the wider Marches region to improve rail connections within the region and provide a greater number of local train services as a primary objective, rather than depending on peripheral services of the region’s neighbouring franchises in Wales and the West Midlands.
- We will support and seek to implement expansion and improvement of Shropshire’s railways, including re-opening some stations and introducing electrification.
- We call for urgent work to significantly improve the county’s primary north-south artery, the A49. This road has long been hazardous with all-too-often fatal consequences. Whilst a strong economic case has often been made for improving other routes, the need for improved safety on the A49 must no longer be ignored.