The Department for Transport (DfT) has issued a call to evidence on the future of rural transport, with ministers hoping that new technology such as drone deliveries can unlock connections.
The announcement follows last year's review of urban transport, which placed an emphasis on micromobility and paved the way for the current e-scooter trials.
The call to evidence for rural transport will help shape the Government's future strategy to tackle the challenges and trends in countryside transport. These include a dependence on private cars, an older population, challenges accessing key services and a lack of active travel .
Officials highlighted that the distance between a person’s home and their nearest mass transport hub is often around five miles in rural areas, 'making it a major barrier to accessing public transport and services'.
The DfT suggested that an example of 'a rural-specific principle could be around the promotion of shared journeys'.
'While lower population densities in rural areas might mean that mass transit is not always an option, there is potential to increase the number of shared journeys – whether within a shared car or through DRT.'
Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and demand-led transport could also be employed to allow users to plan, book and pay for their travel.
'Opportunities for drones to make deliveries in rural or isolated towns and areas are being explored,' the DfT said.
Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: 'This call for evidence will give us a unique opportunity to harness the community spirit of rural areas to understand how innovation in transport can benefit the people and communities that need it most.
'Now more than ever, it is important that we use the power of transport to build back greener, and transform how people and goods move around the UK.'
The call for evidence is open to everyone with an interest in rural transport and is a challenge to business and transport groups to bring forward innovation to help people access jobs, education or healthcare.
The consultation document has three sections:
- the context of the Future of Transport: rural strategy
- our assessment of the mobility trends in rural areas, and the emerging opportunities for rural environments that we’re witnessing in transport innovation – this section seeks views on whether we have identified these correctly and further evidence for these trends
- consideration of the approach that the Government could take to help shape these opportunities to benefit rural areas