The rural transport problem : aspects of context, policy response and planning approaches
1) There is a growing awareness of the importance of accessibility as a determinant and conditioner of a variety of problems perceived in contemporary rural areas. 2) The 'rural transport problem1 is essentially social in character because it is possible to point to distinct social groups at particular localities that experience a differentially low level of personal mobility relative to the norms of contemporary society. 3) Rural society is not static in character but is at present experiencing three fundamental processes of social and demographic change. These condition the number, location, and individual perception, of people suffering the 'rural transport problem'. 4) There is a basic dichotomy between the stated rationale for' public intervention to solve the 'rural transport problem' and the way the policies have been implemented. This is shown to have arisen from a misconception of the relationship between the problem (consumer based) and the response (support supply) in the work of the Jack Committee in the early sixties. This dichotomy has been maintained. 5) There has been a general failure of both tiers of government to perceive the differences between the 'need' for transport and the 'demand' for transport and this has distorted the relationship between the objectives of public intervention and the social character of the problem on the one hand, and the nature of local policy implementation on the other. There is no method presently available, that can be attached to this procedure of implementation, that will allow the evaluation of the social returns of public financial intervention in this policy area. 6) An alternative process of implementation is advanced based upon three innovations in procedures; i) the use of a method of measuring comparative need as a device for identifying the transport needs of a community, ii) the use of spatial opportunity profiles to evaluate transport and fixed facility supply in meeting these needs, iii) the use of a process of operator tenders for defined service packages - defined by utilising the 'needs' criteria previously described. 7) The advantages of the reformulated procedure would be that; i) It directly implements and fulfills the stated objectives of public intervention in this policy area, ii) It gives social based criteria for the evaluation of the success of implementation - defining the nature, extent, and type of help given to those defined as in 'need', iii) It focuses local authority concerns solely upon the social rationale for intervention, iv) It allows bus operators to act commercially at all times.