Briefing: Transport access in post-lockdown Wales

Across the UK, Governments are preparing to mobilise people in an attempt to get the economy moving again.  In Wales, the Welsh Government has consulted with representative bodies on guidance for public transport operators and passengers. 

As the economy opens back up again, the need for people to travel will increase.  The message currently, is that capacity on the public transport network will reduce to 10-15% as a result of physical distancing measures.  This suggests that there will be no guarantee that a passenger will be able to make an essential journey by public transport.

Across, Wales, there are people who rely on public transport to get to where they need to go.  According to Welsh Government figures, 1 in 5 households in Wales do not have access to their own private vehicle.  Given that many of the main transport services at peak times were over-crowded, the Welsh Government and transport operators face a challenge in managing demand for services to ensure that people with no other option are able to make their journey by public transport.

Even when transport services were operating at full capacity in Wales, there were reports of people being at risk of losing their jobs because of an unreliable and inconsistent service.  The post-lockdown proposals mean that space on public transport vehicles will be limited and therefore individuals may find it difficult to make their journey as planned which could put some people in a precarious position.

There are certain groups and geographical areas that stand to be disproportionately impacted by service changes.  A report on rural poverty and transport published by the Wales Centre for Public Policy in 2018 highlighted the importance of rural transport services in increasing opportunities, ensuring access to services and reducing isolation.  Figures in this report suggest that around 25% of the rural population in Wales is living in poverty.  As rural transport services were already facing difficulties, there is an even greater need in the current climate to protect rural services for those in sparsely populated areas who have no access to private transport.[1]

Certain demographic groups such as women, young people, over 65s and people from ethnic minority groups[2] are particularly likely to use public transport for essential journeys and are likely to be disproportionately affected.  It is important that those who rely on public transport remain able to make essential journeys.

To read our full briefing on Transport Access in Post-lockdown Wales, click the download button.

[1] Powell, J. Keech, D. & Reed, M. (2018) What Works in Tackling Rural Poverty: An Evidence Review of Interventions to Improve Transport in Rural Areas, WCPP, Cardiff

[2] Ibid.

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