Northern day outs 'reliant on cars due to lack of public transport options'

Public transport services in the North “are not fully meeting the needs of visitors to the region” - resulting in many relying on cars to get around, new research has warned.

Car travel is the main mode of transport for people on days out in the North, a new report has said. Picture: PA

The Visitor Economy and Transport in the North of England report, commissioned by Transport for the North, found that 85 per cent of people going on days out within the North used a car or a van, with 78 per cent of visitors from outside the region also doing so.

The report said: “Analysis of the National Travel Survey identified that most visitor transport demand in the North of England is generated by people travelling between urban areas, between urban and rural areas, and between urban and coastal areas, mirroring the locations identified as key visitor hotspots. Car is the dominant mode for visitor journeys, especially those within the North.

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“This evidence suggests the North’s public transport services are not fully meeting the needs of visitors to the region. Increased use of public transport and active travel for visitor journeys would put the North’s visitor economy on a more sustainable footing.”

The report said public transport companies and regional political leaders must work together on improving services.

“The North’s train operating companies should also work towards improving the consistency of services on key lines, ensuring they are operated by a uniform fleet of rolling stock which provides a consistent customer experience,” it said.

“Coach and bus are also important modes which can be further leveraged to support sustainable visitor travel in the North. Services to some of the North’s most popular rural visitor economy hotspots suffer from low frequencies and limited operating hours, meaning they fail to provide a viable alternative to the private car.

“This issue is not unique to rural areas, with frequencies in some urban areas also declining post evening peak, therefore failing to support the North’s night-time economy. In order to ensure the sustainability of the North’s visitor economy from both an environmental and transport perspective, it will be important to ensure all key destinations are provided with a viable alternative to the private car.

“The diversity of the North means multiple solutions will be required which take into account local context and visitor demographics. These could include enhancements to service frequencies and operating hours of existing services, park and ride services to reduce car journeys to some of the most popular destinations, and dedicated tourist services to facilitate door-to-door journeys between accommodation and attractions.

“TfN should collaborate with local transport authorities, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and coach and bus operators to understand the barriers to improving services within the North, and facilitate the provision of infrastructure improvements which support the integration of public transport with active travel throughout the region.”

Infrequent services put tourists and locals off buses

Infrequent bus services are among the reasons putting visitors off attempting to get around Yorkshire by public transport, the report states.

“A number of participants raised the issue of public transport not providing adequate services on Sundays, weekends, or evenings, making weekend trips especially difficult.

“Participants highlighted the infrequency of service at those times, as well as in rural areas more broadly. It was also noted that timetabling for buses can be confusing and overcomplicated, with varying timetables for different days, bank holidays, term time and non-term time all adding to the confusion.

“The preference for using the private car was linked to negative perceptions, and real-world experiences, of using public transport to travel to and within the North. Anxieties around the reliability of services, (that services may be cancelled at the last minute, or may be subject to delays), generally put many participants off making visits to the North via public transport. Participants also identified a lack of through/direct services between key places in the North.”

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