A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Minimum Income Standard for the UK, has found that cuts to public transport and rising fares mean families are being forced to rely on cars for the first time.

Richard Hebditch, Campaign for Better Transport’s campaigns director, said:

"This report shows that for families with children outside London, having a car is now seen as an essential cost. This can be largely attributed to the Government reducing its support for public transport, resulting in cuts to bus services and higher rail and bus fares. Those who simply can’t afford a car and have to rely on public transport are also facing a squeeze with reduced bus services making it more difficult to get to a job and higher fares eating into tight household budgets. The Government needs to ensure that transport doesn’t trap people in poverty or unemployment."

The JRF report coincides with the launch of Campaign for Better Transport’s own research on transport poverty. Transport, Accessibility and Social Exclusion, released today (Tuesday July 10), which found that a lack of affordable and accessible public transport is having a serious effect on low income households and reducing people’s ability to find work.

The report found that:

  • Those on low incomes are more reliant on bus services with half of the poorest fifth of the population not having a car, rising to more than two thirds of job seekers;
  • Improving transport services and making them affordable and accessible addresses social exclusion;
  • Transport poverty needs to be carefully defined, especially in relation to car ownership, and focus on real deprivation;
  • Low income communities are more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads, face worse air quality and have higher exposure to other negative impacts of transport.

The report is a summary of three separate pieces of research, including a study on the impact of bus cuts in Hampshire and Hartlepool by independent research company Ecorys; and evidence from Citizens Advice Bureau on how poor transport affects those looking for work. The report makes three recommendations for the Government in order to help address transport poverty:

  • Government departments for Transport, Work and Pensions, and Communities and Local Government should work together to address how to overcome the transport barriers to those looking for work.
  • Next year’s national bus policy should include financial support from central and local government, take account of those on low incomes and include sufficient funding for concessionary fares schemes.
  • The Department for Transport and Department for Communities and Local Government should promote effective accessibility planning as part of local plans and local transport plans.