Government urged to act to ensure poor public transport does not block students in rural areas from university life in Peterborough
Young people in rural areas around Peterborough face missing out on a ‘life changing’ university education in the city because of poor public transport, it has been warned.
The alarm has been sounded by Ross Renton, the principal of ARU Peterborough - the city’s new £30 million university - that is due to open to students next September.
Now he is calling on the Government to act to ‘level up’ public transport to ensure young people living in rural areas can easily get to and from the new university.
He wants ministers to develop bold plans to address the cost and frequency of rural transport, particularly in areas such as Fenland.
His demand comes ahead of ARU Peterborough’s latest open day on December 11 for which Greater Anglia and Stagecoach East have agreed to provide free train and bus travel to prospective students.
Professor Renton said: “This travel to learn challenge is more than just the prohibitive cost of travelling to a place of learning or the lack of income to cover the cost.
“It also concerns accessibility, for example sporadic timetables or no public transport options whatsoever.
“It is incredibly important that transport doesn’t stop young people’s ambitions in their tracks.
“Rural communities are impacted more than most, with low population densities in many villages causing the unviability of regular bus routes.
He added: “As part of the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, I’d like to see the Government implement initiatives to integrate transport and education, helping to both widen education participation and transform currently isolated rural communities, both in this area and across the country.
“We could be even bolder as a nation and reduce or eradicate transport fares for full-time students and apprentices entirely.
“Increasing the number of students using public transport is likely to enhance viability and the availability of services, helping everyone living in a rural community, while at the same time benefitting the environment through fewer car journeys.”
He said: “We are extremely grateful that both Stagecoach East and Greater Anglia are supporting our Open Day by offering free travel.
“Inclusivity is one of ARU’s core values and it is important that everyone who wants to attend our Open Day can do so.”
The Open Day on December 11 will run from 10am until 2pm, and will be based at ARU Peterborough’s Guild House building on Oundle Road.
Visitors will be able to hear from academics about the courses available to start in 2022, including Degree Apprenticeships, and discover more about different aspects of student life from the Information Hub.
People wishing to take advantage of the free travel deal should book a place via the ARU website https://aru.ac.uk/peterborough/open-day-sign-up
They will receive a voucher which will be accepted for free train or bus travel when using Greater Anglia or Stagecoach East to travel to the Open Day.