Energising rural and coastal communities is a core priority of our Transport Strategy.

Documents and Resources

Rural Mobility Survey - Summary Report

Rural Mobility Compendium of Best Practice

Rural Mobility Dashboard


Further Reading

Future of Transport - DfT Report: Helping local authorities to unlock
the benefits of technology and innovation in rural transport.

Making the Case for Rural Investment: Joint report with Western Gateway and Peninsula Transport.

Smart Mobility Hub: University of Hertfordshire Partnership working towards innovative transport solutions.

Transport East is the Rural Mobility Centre of Excellence

The Centre of Excellence focuses on understanding the challenges and opportunities for transport in rural communities.

We engage with partners and stakeholders to identify practical ways of achieving better rural transport across the region. This work supports our 'Energising rural and coastal communities' priority.

As the Centre of Excellence, we have:

  • Established a Regional Strategy Hub with transport and wider sector partners with a focus on rural mobility.
  • Provided transport authorities access to our rural mobility dashboard tool which shows the availability of facilities in parishes and levels of satisfaction with transport provision. A summary report is available here.
  • Completed a comprehensive review of existing good practice and research about rural transport, available here.
  • Undertaken further qualitative research to baseline the rural transport needs of the region.
  • Established a Rural Networking Partnership with the University of Hertfordshire.

In 2023, the Department for Transport (DfT) released their Future of Mobility: Rural Strategy which looks at the technologies and innovations emerging within the transport sector, and how rural areas might benefit from their introduction.

Within this strategy, the DfT has pledged to work with Transport East as the Rural Mobility Centre of Excellence to better understand rural mobility issues and how our insight and evidence can support the strategy. 

Learn more about common transport challenges across the region, the Rural Networking Partnership and initiatives to find solutions to rural mobility challenges.

Regional Overview

With one third of the East’s population living in a rural area, there are common transport challenges experienced across the region:

  • Two-thirds of the East’s rural communities live in a ‘transport desert’, an area without an alternative transport to private vehicles. People living have a high reliance on car ownership, meaning rural residents have higher transport costs than urban dwellers and experience greater fuel poverty.
  • It is harder for rural residents to access education, training and employment by means other than car – leading to lower incomes, health inequalities and educational outcomes.
  • Around half of the carbon emissions in the Transport East area are generated by non-urban areas, our regional emissions at 42% are well above the national average of 28%.
  • A disproportionately high number of people in the region are over 65, creating challenges around isolation and poor access to healthcare.

Without clearly understanding the transport needs and developing integrated solutions, rural communities are at real risk of being left behind as the nation decarbonises transport and levels up.

Rural Networking Partnership 

Transport East is working with the Smart Mobility Unit at the University of Hertfordshire to continue research and work on mobility outside of cities.

Historically research, funding and policy work has focused on urban transport, however there is a strong case for work to now support rural mobility. 

Previous research undertaken by the University of Hertfordshire and partners can be found here. 

A “rural transport learning network” has been established, to continue and develop the contacts and networking from the roundtables. It brings together those working on transport outside cities, and seek to spread information about relevant initiatives and studies. 

Roundtable topics in this series include;  

  • Public Transport in Rural Areas 
  • Mobility Hubs 
  • Travel and Tourism 
  • Future of Transport: Rural Strategy (TBC) 

Existing initiatives

There are already many positive projects happening across the region, including:

  • Demand responsive transport pilots using electric vehicles and apps such as DigiGo and FlexiBus Plus.
  • The only market town mini-holland feasibility funding in the country awarded to Suffolk. 
  • Projects supporting wider health, social and economic outcomes including Pedal Power for residents of Jaywick and the Active Travel Social Prescribing Pilot in Suffolk.  
  • Public electric vehicle charging stations in Norfolk & Essex and funding to expand the open-source Plug in Suffolk scheme in rural areas.
  • The Government's nationwide £2 bus fare cap, which has been extended until December 2024.
  • Our EV Study with England's Economic Heartland highlighted the importance of including rural locations when deploying public charging infrastructure.
Documents and further reading

Transport East Resources

Rural Mobility Dashboard

Rural Mobility Compendium of Best Practice

Rural Mobility Survey Summary Report


Further Reading

Future of Transport - DfT Report: Helping local authorities to unlock
the benefits of technology &
innovation in rural transport.

Making the Case for Rural Investment: Joint report with Western Gateway and Peninsula Transport