Towards Total Transport

NDPTU has always advocated Total Transport as the way forward, i.e. an integrated approach to public transport such as is enjoyed in parts of continental Europe, particularly Switzerland, where one journey may require the use of several modes of transport, e.g. train, bus and boat, but where a single ticket covers the whole journey and connections between the different modes are timed to produce short, but not too short, waits for each mode change.

In 2015 37 councils were awarded a total of £7.6M of government funding to deliver integrated transport in rural and isolated areas. Of this sum, Devon County Council (DCC) received £300,000. The then Transport Minister and the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury said that it was important to have well-functioning public transport in rural areas to help people get to school, business, shops, hospitals, or to meet friends and family.

In July 2017 we asked a DCC councillor how they had spent, or were proposing to spend, the awarded money to achieve the objective of the Pilot Fund. Here is their answer.


“Our project was on the basis of extending our integrated approach to transport applied across DCC services to other public sector agencies. The aims included:

“With DCC having an established Transport Coordination Service (TCS) managing Public and Community Transport support, the National Bus Pass, Education and Social Care transport, the largest area of transport provision outside of this was non-emergency patient transport commissioned by the NHS. Our main focus in the first year of the project was to fund staff resource within TCS and the NHS to look at ways we can work together. This ultimately led to the introduction of the Patient Transport Advice Service from May 2016 with non-emergency patient transport commissioned by NEW Devon CCG now being managed and coordinated by DCC. The remainder of the pilot fund was used to set up this new working arrangement which now sees NHS transport sitting alongside DCC’s transport functions.

“Out of the 37 pilots DCC is the only one so far to achieve this level of integrated planning and provision of transport with the NHS and has been used as an example of best practice nationally.

“What does this mean for public transport? With having a strong coordinating approach to passenger transport requirements DCC has not had the large scale reductions in financial support for local bus services seen in other areas, including some of our immediate neighbours. While we had to make some reductions in 2011 and 2015, savings have been achieved in other ways without large scale reductions in services. The project with the NHS is a long term one challenging existing ways of working and looking to further integrate our services. It is not something that can be done overnight (which I think is where some of the other pilots came unstuck) but we are hopefully well on our way.”


While NDPTU is pleased to see that some progress has been made, we feel that there is still a long way to go before true Total Transport is achieved throughout the county of Devon. Total transport is need in both urban and rural locations. Transport for London, for example, refers to the capital’s “transport network”, rather than the “rail network” or the “bus network”. For further comparison we note without further comment the following diagram (reproduced with permission) which shows what our neighbours, Cornwall Council, are proposing.

Proposed Total Transport System for Cornwall

You can also read users’ comments relating to transport integration.

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