Transport for Towns

I spoke today in the Transport for Towns debate in Westminster Hall, in which I stressed to the Minister that "it is important that we invest in affordable, functional and durable transport infrastructure that enhances the ability of our constituents to journey safely within and between our towns and cities. The UK Government’s industrial strategy recognises the need for investment in greener, cleaner transport and for support for electric vehicles, including public service vehicles. We need towns with safe cycling and electric vehicles that lead to clear air to breathe, where trees and greenery intertwine with modern connected living. I hope that the Minister will continue to support such investment throughout the United Kingdom, including the much-needed improvements to public transport.​"

4.49 pm, Bill Grant

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Austin. I thank the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) for securing this important debate.

Transport connectivity is essential for many members of our communities in achieving daily activities such as going to work, places of education and medical appointments, and participating in leisure and other activities. For some, that involves travelling to and from neighbouring towns and villages, and we need to ensure that adequate and affordable public transport connectivity is in place.

Connectivity is only as good as the timetabling allows. Some of my constituents in Cumnock recently raised the issue of the revised bus timetable, which results in them arriving unsociably early or unfashionably late for work. Greater care must be taken in the notification of proposals and there must be improved consultation on any public transport changes, with active participation from those who are likely to be affected.

Even worse than timetable changes, an inordinate number of buses and bus routes have been withdrawn, which has had a negative effect, particularly on people in rural communities seeking to go to and from work. Lifestyle choices will have a bearing on the transport that commuters utilise, although some people have little or no choice, particularly in rural areas. Life events outwith their control, such as an illness that requires regular treatment, may influence people’s preferred mode of transport between, for example, Ayrshire towns and the excellent Beatson oncology centre in the city of Glasgow. Any transport infrastructure also needs to be mindful of those with limited mobility.

In my constituency, with the publicised threat of some specialist NHS services being relocated to larger towns and cities, it is important that we consider the needs of different travellers at different times in their life journey. Many communities and charities run community transport buses, which—believe me—are a lifeline in rural Scotland. It is vital that we support them where possible and that we do not overlook the varied needs of rural and urban communities.

I am conscious of the time. It is important that we invest in affordable, functional and durable transport infrastructure that enhances the ability of our constituents to journey safely within and between our towns and cities. The UK Government’s industrial strategy recognises the need for investment in greener, cleaner transport and for support for electric vehicles, including public service vehicles. We need towns with safe cycling and electric vehicles that lead to clear air to breathe, where trees and greenery intertwine with modern connected living. I hope that the Minister will continue to support such investment throughout the United Kingdom, including the much-needed improvements to public transport.​