What do buses have to do with community resilience?
The announcement follows the government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ paper, published last year, which announced plans to invest in bus transport. These ideas are part of the focus on ‘levelling up’ national transport provisions.
This is an area of policy which indirectly feeds into community resilience. Differences in geography and connectedness can create differences in how people experience modern Britain.
Rumours about urban crime or ‘no go zones’ sometimes proliferate in areas that are more cut off – where there is less exposure to new populations and to cultural change, or lower levels of contact with diverse hubs. It can also lead to feelings of marginalisation from the national conversation.
The chart above shows the link between attitudes to migration and multiculturalism and geographical marginalisation. Of course, there are many exceptions, and this is not a causal factor. The correlation between these factors is not as strong as with things like education and skills or deprivation. But most of the places which are very disconnected from transport infrastructure (i.e. 90 minutes or more from a major rail terminus) under-index for migration liberalism.
Below, meanwhile, is the criteria (left) and distribution (right) for the ‘Less Connected’ cluster, described in our 2020 Towns Report. These are places which are poorly connected on multiple fronts and where resilience risks may be more pronounced as a result.
For community resilience to be strengthened across the UK, the goal must be a nation where all of those who want to are able to get around and to participate first-hand in the commercial, cultural and economic life of our urban hubs.
As with many elements of the drive to ‘level up’, the jury remains out on whether this will happen. But steps to improve bus infrastructure should be cautiously welcomed, as a step forward for community resilience in Britain’s towns.