Kent County Council has launched its Big Conversation programme online, allowing residents to take part in a consultation on the future of rural transport services.
For the next eight weeks, until August 8, residents can have their say on how rural transport could look in the future as KCC faces ever decreasing funding to support subsidised bus services.
The main objectives of the programme are to maintain and, where possible, improve rural accessibility for those without alternative means of travel.
As well as a consultation booklet and questionnaire, KCC will be running public meetings throughout the county as well as parish seminars, specifically for local councillors.
The 11 public meetings will be held between 7pm and 9pm at:
- Dover Town Hall, The Maison Dieu, Biggin Street Dover CT16 1DL on June 19
- Margate Football Club, Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate CT9 5QZ on June 21
- Elite Venue, Dunkirk Close, Gravesend, DA12 5ND on June 26
- STAG Community Arts Centre, Sevenoaks TN13 1ZZ on July 4
- Borough Green Village Hall, Borough Green, TN15 8DG on July 5
- University of Kent, Darwin Conference Suite, Canterbury, CT2 7NZ, on July 10
- Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre, Ashford Road, Tenterden, TN30 6LT on July 17
- St Mary’s Bay Village Hall, Romney Marsh, TN29 OSW on July 12
- High Weald Academy, Angley Road, Cranbrook TN17 2PJ on July 11
- UK P Leisure, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne ME10 4DE on July 18
- Lecture Theatre, Sessions House, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ on July 19
KCC cabinet member for transport Mike Whiting said: “We have been working with transport providers to develop some initial ideas which could protect future services and potentially provide new rural links.
“These ideas build on the experience of our public transport team and transport providers and consider what could work in Kent, as well as what has worked elsewhere.
“Ideas such as feeder services, bookable buses, or taxi services could provide an alternative way to support rural transport by replacing routes and journeys currently subsidised by KCC.
“It is important to highlight that these ideas are at an early stage and we have not investigated making changes to specific services or areas of the county.”
Around 97% of journeys in Kent are run by private operators, such as Arriva and Stagecoach, with over 50 operators covering 600 services or routes.
Mr Whiting added: “Once potential ideas have been explored with the market and engagement with residents has been completed we will work on developing these ideas.
“We are working with transport and technology providers to look at ideas on how we can develop new ways of delivering rural transport.
“Your feedback is really important, and it will be used to develop potential pilots that will be presented at a Bus Summit in October.”
Over the last 30 years KCC has funded some routes which, while not commercially viable, have been considered important to meet the needs of the communities and passengers they serve.
To take part, visit www.kent.gov.uk/bigconversation