Bracknell Forest is an area of very high car ownership with 86% of households owning one or more cars, compared to a national average of 74%. (Census, 2011). This has been a significant factor in bringing about the relatively low use of the bus network.
However, in communities where there are lower levels of car ownership, more limited public transport, lower incomes and an ageing population combine to present challenges reducing opportunities to access shops and services, increasing social isolation and limiting life opportunities, such as accessing employment and access to leisure facilities.
Key inequalities and risk factors
The 2005 Bracknell Forest Council Equalities Impact Assessment Highways and Transportation (accessed 1 July 2016) indicates that health and wellbeing outcomes of certain people and groups might be adversely affected from limited transport options:
- People with low incomes
- People with limited mobility
- Older people or people on low or fixed incomes or without access to a car
The National Travel Survey Disability and travel: 2007-2014 factsheet reports:
- People with disabilities report their most significant problems are accessing hospitals, GPs and friends.
- Only 41% of people with disabilities are likely to be car drivers, 37% have no access to a car and 23% travel as passengers in other people’s cars
The importance of transport for older people is covered in a dedicated chapter of the JSNA.
Facts, figures and trends
Public transport encompasses all forms of non-personal transport such as taxis, buses, trains, etc. which run according to a timetable, and for which a fee is usually charged. The benefits of using public transport include:
- Availability of concessionary fares – makes transport more affordable to lower income households
- Increased availability and choice – increasing public transport helps make bus routes more viable and transport providers are more likely to increase hours of operation, increased frequency and stops
- Reduced emissions – Encouraging use of the bus in place of car journeys is also a key approach to reducing the emission gases inducing climate change and road congestion.
According to Census 2011 data cited in the council’s census summary, the ward with the highest average number of cars and vans is Owlsmoor and the lowest average number is Wildridings and Central:
Priestwood and Garth has the highest number of households with no cars or vans at all and Warfield Harvest Ride has the fewest number of households without cars or vans.
The council provides national concessionary bus passes to those residents who meet the national age or disability eligibility. The council’s concessionary fares scheme extends the national off-peak scheme so that it applies to all local bus journeys originating in the borough, regardless of time.
In addition to bus passes, the council currently provides a subsidy towards senior railcards and disabled persons railcard.
The National Travel Survey Disability and travel: 2007-2014 factsheet highlights that whilst fewer than 20% of people with disabilities have problems accessing travel information, choosing destinations or communicating with drivers, more than 50% experience barriers to travel which are ranked as follows:
- Getting to bus stops
- Getting on and off buses
- Difficulties with prolonged standing and waiting at bus stops
- Finding and then getting to and from seats
Alternative transport choices
In terms of using alternative transport to private vehicles, public transport is the most common option for all, but less accessible to those with any disability.
Those with a disability are more likely to have no alternative, to go on foot, or to use a taxi. This finding was echoed in the 2016 R-Bus community transport consultation undertaken by the council’s Community Team for People with a Learning Disability. It found that transport is a lifeline to social activities for people with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, participation in which provided respite for parents and carers.
The council provides an annual grant to Community Transport provider Keep Mobile so that older people and those with disabilities which prevent them from accessing mainstream public transport have access to specialist transport services.
The use of taxis are an additional cost burden for people with disabilities that people without a disability may not have. Costs are also increased where a person needs to travel with a carer.
A borough of opportunity
The regeneration of Bracknell Town Centre will be significant to the local population as a social and economic hub. Ensuring good transport to and from the town centre will be vital not only to the sustainability of local business but as a social and entertainment centre will provide opportunities for reducing social isolation in vulnerable groups and make employment opportunities accessible to borough residents.
The 2011 census showed Bracknell Forest residents were more car-dependent than the national averages with:
- 70.1% travelling to work by car or van against the 57.5% national average; and
- only 7% of residents travel to work by public transport compared to the 16.4% national averages
More than 40% of working residents in Bracknell Forest travel less than 5km to work and fewer than the regional average travel in excess of 40km to work, reflecting the Borough’s importance as anemployment hub.
Whilst all people cite road works and delays the most significant barrier to getting to work, people with disabilities were likely to find it harder to find alternative modes of travel to get to work in the event of issues.
Improving accessibility to key services
Electronic signage in Bracknell town centre has up-to-date travel information on bus departures which should help reduce the amount of waiting time for less mobile public transport users. The Bracknell Town centre bus station has also been upgraded to be more user friendly and accessible.
Appropriate bus routes and stops
Public transport passes the Royal Berkshire Bracknell Healthspace which offers a range of services including renal dialysis, cancer care and outpatient clinics including urgent care.
Reducing barriers to parking – the Blue Badge scheme
The Blue Badge scheme entitles disabled people to additional parking rights and is available to disabled people whether they drive or not. Eligible people can apply online or through the Council. The number of badges issued and renewed in Bracknell Forest is:
Planning an enabling environment
One important action is to modify the environment so that it does not promote sedentary behaviour and makes it easier for people to travel on foot or by public transport. The aim is to help make the healthy choice the easy choice via environmental change and action at population and individual levels. This provides the opportunity to build the partnerships that are important for creating healthier places, and around which local leaders and communities can engage. Planning authorities can influence the built environment to improve health and reduce the extent to which it promotes active travel, the details of which should be set out in the area’s Local Plan.
Although the transport plan for Bracknell Forest is outlined in the Local Transport Plan 3 Core Strategy 2011-26. Below are the key policies relating to transport accessibility for older people, as likelihood of mobility issues and disability increases with age, the policy will also be relevant.
Want to know more?
Building the foundations – tackling obesity through planning and development (Local Government Association & Public Health England, 2016) – A report which identifies a series of themes and more specific elements that help to create healthy-weight environments.
Disability and travel factsheet (Department of Transport, 2014) – sets out the travel patterns of people with disabilities that affect their personal mobility.
Health related travel difficulties (Department of Transport, 2010) – sets out the travel patterns of people with health problems that affect their personal mobility. The figures quoted are based on the 2008 survey and cover Great Britain. The NTS covers adults and children, but asks only people aged 16 and over about personal mobility difficulties.
Traffic profile (DfT, 2016) – Traffic counts provides street-level traffic data for every junction-to-junction link on the ‘A’ road and motorway network in Great Britain.
Transport for All (accessed 1 July 2016) – a national website with information on transport and travel issues for people with disabilities, including information on concessionary schemes such as blue badges, railcards and National Express cards.
Travel choice for business – a local guide to workplace travel plans (Bracknell Forest Council, 2010) – sets out the management process which assesses the impact of travel on a business, and then introduces a series of targeted measures with the aim of encouraging more sustainable and efficient travel choices for financial savings and productivity improvements.
Travel Information for business – a simple local guide signposting available transport information.
This page was created on 27 February 2014 and updated on 22 June 2016.
Cite this page:
Bracknell Forest Council. (2016). JSNA – Transport and vulnerable people. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/people-places/wider-determinants-health/vulnerable-groups-and-transport (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)
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