The cost of living crisis is affecting lower income families and individuals across Wales but those in rural Wales in particular, are being adversely impacted by transport poverty. A recent Sustrans Cymru report, defines transport poverty as when a household spends more than 10% of their income on running a car and highlights that people living in rural areas of Wales are some of the most affected by transport poverty.
The Public Policy Institute for Wales notes that public transport in rural areas is inadequate, infrequent, and more expensive than urban areas, resulting in increased use of private vehicles and higher costs for individuals. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the lack of adequate transport in rural Wales, leading to increased inequality.
The cost of travel has also increased, with rail, coach, and bus ticket prices increasing by up to 74% over the past ten years, according to the RAC Foundation’s Transport Price Index. Additionally, a significant proportion of the Welsh population does not have access to a car or van, and some do not have any public transport links within their local area, making it a significant problem, especially in rural areas.
Mark Shucksmith, writing for The Conversation in March 2023, states that the index of multiple deprivation, which governments use to identify areas where poverty is concentrated, often misses rural poverty as the indices used include data on lack of car ownership to help measure an area’s poverty – but in a rural area, a car is essential even for poorer households.