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June 29, 2023

Supporting Rural Communities to Build Sustainable Transport Networks

An insight into the recent Scottish Rural and Islands Transport Community gathering and how it's possible to build rural sustainable transport networks.

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Last month, the team at Liftango were delighted to attend the Scottish Rural and Islands Transport Community gathering in the Boat of Garten together with a selection of local, national and international industry bodies, transport and technology providers, community projects, and government bodies. Everyone came together for the first time in nearly 4 years to explore the major mobility challenges facing rural and island communities via facilitated panel discussions and workshops.  

Over a number of panel sessions, experts discussed key topics including innovation, decarbonisation and sustainability. Interactive workshops enabled teams to explore what the core components of a sustainable, rural mobility plan should be and how it should be integrated and presented to policy makers to maximise the probability of adoption.

While there were real examples of how some communities are successfully running rural transport services, the depth and breadth of challenges faced by rural communities, both in setting up viable, sustainable transport systems, and in communicating with communities about their existence, was very much in evidence. 

At the event, the importance of a reliable transport system to provide a lifeline to rural communities was abundantly clear. Yet it is often neglected due to disproportionately small population numbers compared to the infrastructure required and the (incorrect) perception of low demand for travel. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a high dependency on private cars in rural areas which disproportionately affects elderly and young people and leads to increased social isolation.

During our time together we explored several ways in which rural communities can develop more accessible, affordable and greener transport networks to meet demand and provide more environmentally-conscious ways to travel. These included new and emerging technologies, such as electric bikes and the delivery of parcels by drones, as well as on-demand bus services. 

On-demand bus services support community needs by expanding bus services to drop passengers off closer to where people live and at more convenient times. These efforts need to be coordinated by local authorities to synchronise with other transport partners, such as bus companies, to offer services to and from train stations and/or other local transport hubs.  This can help encourage visitors and tourists to use sustainable transport, as well as provide vital transport links to local communities.

If you are looking to develop a rural mobility plan, get in touch with the Liftango team who can help design and enable on-demand bus services.

About Scottish Rural and Islands Transport Community 

SRITC was founded by Jenny Milne and its mission is to build a community that works together to address the many transport challenges facing rural and Islands communities. SRITC provides a voice for all those involved in rural transport to government bodies and plays an active role in helping to shape rural and Islands transport policy at a national level. They are regularly invited to provide written feedback on Scottish Government transport strategy consultations, and spoken evidence to Parliamentary committees.

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