How can we help?

Thanks for getting in touch!

Error!

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about us and how we work with our clients, consultants and colleagues.

One of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Something's wrong. Please try it again.

Privacy & Cookies

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how Weston Williamson + Partners uses and protects any information that you give us when you use this website. We are committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement. We may change this policy from time to time by updating this page; please check back from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from May 1 2018.

What we collect

  • Contact information including email address
  • Anonymous website analytics statistics

What we do with the information we gather

  • Internal record keeping
  • We may use the information to improve our products and services

Security

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.

Links to other websites

Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, please note that we do not have any control other websites and cannot be held responsible for the protection of any information you provide whilst visiting any third party site.

Controlling your personal information

  • You may request details of, or deletion of, personal information which we hold about you under the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. If you would like a copy of the information held on you please telephone the studio on +44 (0) 20 7401 8877

--

Cookies

In order for this site to work properly, we sometimes place small data files called cookies on your device.

What are cookies?

A cookie is a small text file saved on your computer or mobile device by a website when you visit https://www.westonwilliamson.com. The cookie enables the website to remember your actions and preferences such as login, language, font size and other display preferences to keep you from having to reenter them on every visit to the website or when browsing from page to page.

How do we use cookies?

A number of the pages on our website use cookies to remember:

Your display preferences, such as contrast and color settings or font size Whether or not you have already replied to a survey popup that asks you if the content was helpful or not so that you won’t be asked over and over again Whether or not you have agreed to our use of cookies on this site In addition some embedded videos in our pages use a cookie to anonymously gather statistics on how you got there and what videos you viewed. Although enabling these cookies is not strictly necessary for the website to work, it will provide you with a better browsing experience. Cookies can be deleted or blocked, but some features of this site may not work as intended should you do so. The cookie-related information is not used to identify you personally and the pattern data is fully under our control. The cookies on this website are not used for any purpose other than those described here.

How to control cookies

You can block and/or delete cookies as you wish using your browser settings.You can delete all cookies that are already on your computer and you can set your browser to prevent them from being placed. By doing this you may have to manually adjust some preferences every time you visit https://www.westonwilliamson.com and some services and functionalities may not work.


Bus+ Community lead integrated delivery scheme utilising underused rural bus services

Bus+ Community lead integrated delivery scheme utilising underused rural bus services

Alex Cole

Over the course of his studies at the University of Nottingham, Alex gained a keen interest in design which reinvigorates historically innovative settings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the isolation of rural communities from the country’s transport infrastructure.

With a growing elderly and vulnerable population, matched with splintering social structures, many find themselves lacking access to social and communal support. Meanwhile, rural bus services are increasingly underfunded and underused, constantly threatened with closure at great detriment to those who rely on them to support their daily lives.

With more and more importance being placed upon urban infrastructure, it is vital that rural systems are enhanced in tandem. Rural bus networks must be reinvigorated and re-instated as valuable assets, rebuilding their connection to the community through the rethinking of the services they offer; creating a truly community focused transit network.

The Issues

Our fragmented network of rural bus services provides around 267 million journeys each year, connecting those in the most isolated of areas with local hubs. Buses are arguably the UK’s most integrated transport network. However, while this is true, our rural services are increasingly underfunded with a reduction in spending of £107 million from 2011 to 2017. With most rural services being underused outside of commuter hours, they rely on these government subsidies to function. These rural bus services are now disappearing at an alarming rate, with a report in 2018 stating 3,000 services had been cut since 2010. This is leaving many people, young and old, without proper connectivity.


With the arrival of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown millions of elderly and vulnerable people throughout the country have been isolating in their homes. Of the 11.4 million people in the UK living in rural areas, 51% of these are in a high-risk age bracket. Additionally, the number of 45 – 64-year-olds living alone has increased by 50% in the last 20 years. This group of people can find themselves struggling from a lack of a familial or local support networks to provide them with the basic necessities they need to live in their own homes. In rural areas, with a shortage of local shops and supermarkets, this requires vulnerable people to travel on the bus services – against government advice to reach the nearest shop. This comes at a great detriment to their own health and wellbeing.

How Bus+ can help

Bus+ is a proposal that seeks to utilise the connective aspects of the bus services to deliver goods and services to those vulnerable and elderly people who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to acquire them. The current underfunded and underused bus services would be used to create an integrated fleet of vehicles capable of delivering people and produce to isolated areas. A large majority of the services are unused outside of commuter hours, leaving ample opportunity to harness the vehicles for other purposes, supporting wider areas of the community. At first, the scheme would work as follows:


  • Buses running along a prescribed route would be reorganised to include the delivery of goods to local hubs in the rural areas.
  • The local hubs would run under a community-based initiative, connecting the goods to isolated individuals who are unable to travel long distances.
  • The scheme could run on a subscription basis where, for example, local grocery businesses and restaurants, would supply goods which could be delivered out to vulnerable people.
  • Packages could include fresh ingredients and easily-followed recipes to limit waste, delivering healthy, sustainable and locally-sourced food, providing the user with a complete service.
  • This would massively benefit the vulnerable population in isolation and would make optimum use out of struggling bus services and while supporting local businesses that have struggled over the course of the pandemic.

Bus+ operates on a similar structure to that seen in the Border Courier service in Scotland. This was a service which ran along an agreed route, that enabled medical supplies to be transported between hospitals and surgeries while also transporting passengers to destinations along the route. While this proposal demonstrates an ability to utilise existing infrastructure to serve another area of the community, it lacks flexibility.

A single service running along a rigid system makes it difficult to employ other functions into the service, limiting possibilities to expand into a wider proposal for public development. Bus+ implementing a nationally integrated scheme would mean a network of services would participate in communal economies of scale. Potentially harnessing the network of multiple routes and vehicles to increase outreach, or even begin to innovate in the new era of home delivery.

A Community Scheme

Community bus services are already in use where there is low availability of funding. The Bus+ network would harness community support through volunteering programmes, keeping costs as low as possible. For example,

  • Volunteers could be encouraged from the thousands of students currently residing at home and idle in between semesters.
  • Use of the DofE expedition, a major scheme aiming to involve younger people in their locality, could become an easier source of voluntary work, and would help support children living in isolated areas, they themselves completing their award.

While the physical effects of the pandemic have deeply impacted the elderly, the mental implication of anyone isolating for such a period of time have also become clear. Having little to no interaction with others for this extended period has had an extreme impact on the large population of vulnerable people across the country, especially those living alone.



Bus services assisting a community led programme like Bus+ could also reconnect these people and give them the social interaction they need, establishing a services to run as lockdown restrictions ease. This could be implemented in a number of ways, such as:

  • Local book and puzzle swaps could be introduced along the services producing a book club between participants who can exchange details and discuss over the phone.
  • Elderly users could be connected with volunteer participants to create much-needed social interaction. This has been successfully achieved in other schemes such as the Good Neighbour Scheme set up in Winsford, connecting vulnerable residents with those willing and able to help.
  • Eventually the common bus stop could be reimagined, itself becoming a social hub in the local area, creating a location to connect people in the most isolated areas of the countryside.

The benefits beyond lockdown

Moving forward with the easing of lockdown restrictions does not necessarily mean everyone is safe. Vulnerable people are expecting to endure extended periods of isolation as a precaution for those with various illnesses or ailments attributed to aging. Alternatively, areas of the UK are still facing large COVID-19 infections such as Leicester which has been faced with a counteractive extended lockdown period. This has caused many small villages to remain shut off, negatively impacting those already isolating when schemes set up to support them have already been reduced. Until a vaccine is found we are likely to live with a series of localised lockdowns for a long time to come. Establishing the infrastructure now will create more resilience for the future, both in terms of protecting vulnerable communities, but also the local businesses and bus services that are struggling as a result of the lockdown.


Providing an innovative new service throughout rural areas that benefits those in need is the first step in bringing a community together. Working alongside under-funded bus routes, Bus+ gives these services a strategic importance in the wider public infrastructure of the UK. Saving these bus services is instrumental in countering the perception that rural areas are separate from the urban narrative, and hence the wider national society. While this scheme aims to support those susceptible to the immediate issues arising from isolation, the principles outlined here are ones which would embed community in rural areas, and that is something that would last a lifetime.

Alex Cole

Over the course of his studies at the University of Nottingham, Alex gained a keen interest in design which reinvigorates historically innovative settings.

Related Thoughts

How can we help?

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about us and how we work with our clients, consultants and colleagues.