Tackling rural mobility challenges has the potential to bring several long term benefits to the region

Bringing together the best and brightest minds to tackle complex policy challenges

To tackle the most difficult challenges facing transport today, we have launched a Regional Strategy Hub bringing together experts to give insight into key policy issues for our region.

An independent body supported by Transport East, the Hub will formulate recommendations for complex transport issues to influence local government and national transport policy.

The Regional Strategy Hub will focus on complicated issues for transport. It will facilitate open and robust discussion from multiple expert points of view and set out how to tackle problems at a regional level.

The first inquiry topic for the Strategy Hub was rural mobility. The Hub coordinated a Rural Mobility Call for Evidence to understand how people and businesses in East feel about rural mobility, what challenges currently exist and where improvements to transport should be investigated.

Why rural mobility?

In the East, two-thirds of rural communities in the region - around 600,000 people - live in a transport desert, areas without access to alternative transport other than private vehicles.

Tackling this and other rural mobility challenges has the potential to bring several long term benefits to the region including better access to jobs, training and essential services, greater prosperity, environmental improvements and increased quality of life.

The work of the Strategy Hub will inform our newly created Rural Mobility Centre of Excellence.

The report - Rural connections: transport challenges and opportunities for communities in the East - is available below and provides a set of recommendations for the Transport East Forum and be sent to the Department for Transport among other priority stakeholders.

Rural connections: transport challenges and opportunities for communities in the East

The Regional Strategy Hub rural mobility report developed a set of recommendations from the call for evidence and discussions with experts across the East.

The report analyses the challenges and opportunities the rural communities face and formulates some clear actions, directed at national and local government, Sub-national Transport Bodies and wider partners, to improve rural connections.

Key issues raised by the 150 respondents through the written and oral evidence included:

  • Challenges in planning and making journeys – reliability, frequency, cost, accessibility and connections with other services
  • Access to reliable customer information especially real-time data
  • Poor options for active travel
  • Poor maintenance of rural infrastructure

These issues led to different challenges for different groups but included:

  • Difficulty accessing healthcare and other essential services
  • Challenges in recruiting and retaining staff for rural businesses
  • Reduced options for further education and training for rural younger people

The recommendations focus on rebalancing the policy and investment environment to ensure rural communities are no longer disadvantaged in transport decisions. Recommendations include:

  • Central government to give all local transport authorities longer-term funding certainty by expanding the Local Integrated Transport Settlements to the whole country.
  • Central government to focus on rebuilding long-term capacity and capability within local authorities to support innovation in rural transport.
  • A better join-up between land-use and transport planning at all levels of government to increase the viability of rural services and enhance sustainable communities.
  • Prioritise the maintenance of rural public transport and active travel infrastructure.
  • Transport East and other Sub-national transport bodies to strengthen the evidence for the value of rural services and the case for investment.

To support the Strategy Hub, a committee of expert stakeholders (Commissioners) was established.


The Committee is comprised of experts throughout the East, each with knowledge and insight from their respective field of work. It consists of a Chair and several other Committee members.

Chair: Dr Scott Copsey

Committee members:

  • Candy Richards: Federation of Small Businesses
  • Caroline Whitney: Community Transport Association
  • Jack Eagle: Transport Planning Society Eastern region
  • Nick Khan: East Suffolk Council
  • Pete Waters: Visit East of England
  • Rik Martin: Community Action Norfolk