Trends in bus servicesThis is a crucial year for buses in the Moorlands. The County’s 10-year Transport Plan Review started publicly in January and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The County had previously failed to attract additional funding for buses from central government because its previous Bus Improvement Strategy was deemed inadequate. Alongside this, the County is waiting for confirmation (expected in April) of extra new money from Network North from the cancellation of HS2.

Many people complain about the poor level of bus services, but without a proper case being put to the County it is unlikely that we will see substantial extra investment in our district. SMDC Councillor Charlotte Atkins has now written to the County asking that officers come to the Moorlands to hear our case. She has since received agreement that there will be a meeting in the district for just that purpose. The date, precise location and nature of that meeting has yet to be set, but this is a step forward from previous years when, despite promises of a ‘rural bus revolution’ there was little tangible evidence of any detailed engagement except on the subject of Moorlands Connect.

Buses are crucial in the push for decarbonisation of the district. With the growth in car use, and the rapid growth in renewables in the UK’s energy generation system, transport is now the stand-out component of the country’s emissions profile. The decline in bus services has been more severe in Staffordshire Moorlands than almost anywhere else in England, as the accompanying map from the University of Leeds/Transport Action Network dramatically illustrates.

The central role of buses in decarbonisation was underlined by County officers when they introduced the 10-year Transport Review. This is a summary of what they said:

  1. Future funding from the DfT for all transport will depend to a large extent on our commitments to reducing emissions
  2. A move from car to bus must be a large part of the above
  3. To achieve this, we will need to develop place-based solutions
  4. Officers are working hard on (3), but freely acknowledge the difficulties involved in engaging local stakeholders, particularly given the short timetable of the Plan Review.

This makes it all the more crucial that Moorlands Climate Action members play their full part in presenting a coherent and focused argument for long-term investment in better bus services.

The one success of the previous administration at SMDC on bus services – the introduction of the Moorlands Connect – was swiftly forgotten and the service has been left to struggle on its own devices. Alison McCrea, Mark Johnson and Jonathan Kempster have been co-ordinating with Staffordshire County officers and Ashbourne Community Transport in an attempt to save this service, funding for which is due for review. We have now managed to persuade our MP Karen Bradley to take a trip with us on Moorlands Connect to help publicise this crucial rural service.

Other transport options may in the end prove more sustainable; we may yet fail altogether. If so, it will not be for want of effort on our part. Will you help in our crusade? We can be contacted via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..