Supporting Rural Equality for Scottish Young People

Supporting Rural Equality for Scottish Young People

Rural accessibility is a key issue identified by Pick&Mix’s ‘National Youth Team’ – a group of 16-25 year olds shaping the new mobility service being designed and delivered within the project. When asked about their ambitions for the project, responses included “I want rural communities to be better represented and more accessible for young people” and we need a “better overall way of accessing transportation for both urban and rural settings”.

Around 25% of 16-25 year olds in Scotland are are living in non-urban environments [1]. At the same time there are rising expectation for high school leavers to continue into higher education, seek employment or undergo further training. With social inclusion and the need to ensure equal opportunities for all, high up on the Scottish agenda the importance of delivering accessible transport services across the country has never been greater. However, there is often a difficulty in providing good rural transport options when demand for such services will naturally be lower than for urban services. One of the key inequalities for many young people living in Scotland’s rural areas is reduced connectivity to the transport network. This hinders access to the resources and opportunities that many others take for granted. Young people, for instance, rate commuting as one of the main ‘red flags’ when looking at potential employers or further education opportunities[2].

In some cases, the perception amongst rural young people is that owning a car is the only viable means of transport in their local area. However, with the mounting pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality we must encourage young people to think differently about how they travel and offer them realistic alternative solutions which support access to similar opportunities presented to their peers living in better connected areas. Pick&Mix’s National Youth Team (NYT) will co-design a mobility service which aims to do just this. Co-designing helps the project to foster creativity and develops its capabilities to innovate. The NYT includes a broad range of young people from across Scotland in order to draw in a wide range of insights and deeper understanding of user needs. This will enable the generation of better ideas to deliver more valuable innovation to address the difficulties identified by the both rural and urban young people.

Pick&Mix is still at an early phase, with the NYT’s service recommendations due in the next 6 weeks. As such, we do not yet know exactly what the service will include. However, from the early feedback from the NYT we may expect requirements for: resources which help individuals to choose the best services available to them based on their preferences; easier ticketing and payment; and tools to help in emergency situations . In the longer-term, we hope to see changing attitudes to car ownership; better use of public transport; and reduced inequalities for rural young people.

[1] Including Accessible Small Towns, Remote Small Towns, Accessible Rural and Remote Rural classifications. Source: National Records of Scotland – Population estimates for 6-fold Urban Rural classification, 2002-2014 [Accessed 11/11/2016 at]

[2] The intergenerational foundation – No Entry! Transport Barriers facing Young People; 28 May 2013 [Accessed 10/11/2016]

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