April 18, 2018
Last week Labour committed itself to free bus travel for everyone under 25 (in England) – partly because of the prohibitive cost of transport and partly to encourage more use of public transport. In Scotland, transport costs for young people are similarly high wherever they live but in rural areas cost and availability of options can present a huge barrier to accessing jobs, training or education. Scottish Rural Action has just published some worrying figures. If rural communities are to retain their young folk this is a key question that needs an answer.
A report by Scottish Rural Action found that transport costs in rural Scotland stopped 48% of young people from employment, and 33% of young people from education and training. The report, titled FareEnough?, is based on a survey of young people living in rural communities, and recommends that further research into the issue is carried out with the aim of finding a solution.
• 48% of young people have been prevented from going to work because travel is too expensive
• Over 20% of young people’s income is spent on travel to work• Almost 30% of young people have been stopped from accessing education or training because travel is too costly
• 33% of young people travel over 30 miles per day for work or education
Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action, said “Young people in rural areas deserve the same access to education and employment as young people who live elsewhere, and to do that, we need an integrated, reliable, frequent and affordable public transport system. Young people are telling us that they are missing out on jobs and training because public transport costs too much for them, which will have a lifelong impact on their skill levels, earnings and our rural economy.
“Young people are at a critical stage in their development, making important decisions about their future and embarking on the first steps of their career. Transport can enable their access to essential education and training, but in a rural area, transport is often a barrier. This report highlights the impact of transportation costs specifically on access for rural young people to education and employment.
“Although this report looks at a relatively small sample of young people, the results are eye-opening. If we do not investigate further, and address the concerns raised here as a matter of urgency, we risk excluding yet more young people from reaching their potential and damaging our rural economy.”