Christine Boston, CTA’s Director for Wales, looks at how recent Transport Innovation Networks have kick started conversations on the future of rural transport in Wales.
Throughout January and February, CTA has been running a number of events to look at how we can improve rural transport across Wales. This series of what we’ve called ‘Transport Innovation Networks’ took place in Wrexham, Caernarfon, Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Pembrokeshire.
These events are part of our ‘Connecting Communities in Wales’ project which aims to provide a major boost for community transport in Wales. The project is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Across the five events we brought together a wide range of stakeholders to explore opportunities for community transport in Wales. Partners at the event included representatives from Local Government, the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, employment and training organisations, health and social care organisations and, of course, community transport providers.
The aim of these events was to facilitate new relationships and opportunities for collaboration across the transport sector. It was clear from the 200 stakeholders that attended, and the quality of the conversations between them, that addressing transport issues and tackling isolation is high on the agenda for a wide range of organisations and individuals. The events created a great buzz around these important issues, and we were pleased to see lots of new connections being made that in turn will lead to more partnerships and collaboration with the community transport sector.
During the sessions, participants were given the opportunity to discuss current gaps in transport provision as well as issues such as how better rural transport can increase access to health settings, employment and training. Partners also discussed loneliness and isolation, looking at how new community transport projects could work to tackle these issues. There were also discussions on aspects that are likely to shape the future of rural transport in Wales such as electric vehicles, digital booking and other technological developments.
All of this discussion about how we can work together to create better transport for everyone, no matter where they live, will lead to a number of collaborative partnerships that will pilot new initiatives and enhance connectivity for those who are isolated. We’ll be looking at all the feedback and ideas generated during our tour of Wales so that we can begin supporting organisations to work together and develop funding bids for further activities and projects.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re excited that this project is already seeing real progress in our drive to improve accessible and inclusive transport across Wales.
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