Your editorial concerning the remoteness and poor connectivity in northern Devon (Journal 7th Feb) was followed by BBC Inside Out revealing that Torridge District has the lowest average wage in the entire country.
Northern Devon does not get the level of EU support that Cornwall does, and is very much the poor relation in the SW region as a whole. We are neglected and overlooked by Government at all levels — from the EU down to the County Council. North Devon Public Transport Users (NDPTU) believes that connectivity by public transport, both within the local area and to the rest of the country, needs to be greatly improved.
Good public transport is an essential component of economic well being. We believe it could be greatly improved here, very rapidly and without a huge injection of scarce public funds, simply by better use of existing buses and trains. The key is to use the Barnstaple–Exeter railway more efficiently by speeding up the service, thereby saving on operating costs and attracting far greater usage (the same stock could carry half as many passengers again if it were used efficiently). The substantial amount of money saved could then be used to improve local bus services, with a proper integrated transport system.
We suggest how this could be achieved on our website, www.ndptu.org.uk, and we welcome input from the public. Of course, in the longer term, greater investment is needed — better flood resilience for example — but this is more likely to follow if a sound case for it can be made, by first doing our bit locally.
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