Addressing the Rural Accessibility Problem in Wales

Owen Clark

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    It is considered essential that everybody should have access to the services and amenities that enable them to participate fully in society. However, in rural areas where people and services are often some distance from each other, substantial problems related to accessibility may be experienced.

    Buses are the most widely used form of public transport in Wales, yet the industry is facing an uncertain future. Falling subsidies, falling passenger numbers and reductions in services across Wales, appear to represent a downward spiral – particularly in rural Wales (National Assembly for Wales, Enterprise and Business Committee, 2016 [ ]). The challenge facing the transport sector in rural areas such as Wales, is how to address rural accessibility and social exclusion with limited financial resources to support non-commercial public transport services.

    Research undertaken by the Wales Transport Research Centre, University of South Wales, has investigated the use of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services within an integrated public transport network as a means of addressing social exclusion and rural accessibility. A DRT service called Bwcabus was introduced in 2009 with the aim of improving public transport and access to key services for rural communities in West Wales.

    Bwcabus operates in the relatively sparsely populated rural areas to the north of Carmarthen and south of Aberystwyth, covering the Teifi Valley and south Ceredigion. The service is designed to provide rural communities with a local bus service which is integrated with strategic public transport services, offering connections to Carmarthen, Cardigan, Aberystwyth and beyond.

    Delivery of the project has been achieved through innovation and investment, secured through the local authorities, the Wales Government and European Regional Development Fund, or Regional Development Plan funds. The strategy to increase patronage was to develop a demand responsive service (Bwcabus) combined with the development of strategic routes to:
    • Improve journey times
    • Improve the quality and frequency of bus services
    • Introduce through ticketing
    • Integrate service timetables with improved connections with other bus and rail services.

    Bwcabus has facilitated the change, by enabling the strategic routes to be modified. It is an integrated transport system that is reliant on all component elements. One does not function effectively without the other.

    The paper will introduce an integrated approach to tackling rural accessibility problems as explored through a case study of the Bwcabus service. The paper will detail the approach, outcomes, challenges and lessons learnt.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Sept 2016
    Event IRISH TRANSPORT RESEARCH NETWORK CONFERENCE 2016 - Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland
    Duration: 1 Sept 20162 Sept 2016


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    • Accessibility
    • mobility


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