UK bus popularity increases thanks to greener, better connected services

9 February 2017  •  Author(s): Katie Sadler, Eurotransport

A LowCVP report suggests bus usage in UK towns and cities is increasing thanks to greener, more convenient and better connected services.

UK Bus popularity increases thanks to greener, better connected services

A new report by LowCVP, commissioned by Greener Journeys, has found the bus is making a comeback in parts of the UK where new, modern and innovative services are helping passengers get to their destination more quickly.

The Any Journey is Greener by Bus report reveals the regions which have experienced the biggest growth in bus patronage, they include Bristol (19 percent increase from 2009/10 to 2015/16), Reading (17 percent) Milton Keynes (15 percent) and Oxfordshire (12 percent). All have benefited from investment and prioritisation by local councils in partnership with operators.

Official government figures reflect the same pattern of growth with more affluent parts of the south bucking the trend of long-term decline across the UK as a whole. However, growth is not solely restricted to this area with York recently experiencing a 7 percent increase in bus usage since 2011/12 – the equivalent of an extra 600,000 passenger journeys per year.

Real-time travel information and integrated ticketing increase bus popularity

The report has identified a number of popular improvements highlighted by passengers, they include cleaner vehicle technology, real-time travel information, integrated ticketing, free WiFi and charging, improved seating, shorter journey times, better routing and bus priority measures such as bus lanes.

The report also suggests in some cities and regions, operators have introduced not just cleaner vehicle technology but also a host of other innovative features which are attracting people back to buses, and even out of their cars in some cases.

Moreover, a separate survey of more than 800 passengers across the UK found that convenience is the most common reason to choose the bus for their journey, with 57 percent of respondents naming it as a key factor.

“We would encourage councils and operators across the UK to look at the innovative services”

Commenting on the report, Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “This new report clearly shows that investment in buses, and prioritisation of bus networks, can reap real rewards by increasing passenger numbers and taking more cars off the road, with all the economic, social and environmental benefits that brings.

“We would encourage councils and operators across the UK to look at the innovative services, measures for tackling congestion and clean bus technology detailed in this report as a model for raising usage and sparking their own bus renaissance.”

“Buses have the potential to play a central role, particularly in cities of the future where the idea of mobility as a service is already becoming a reality”

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, added: “This report, the third in a series on progress in the bus industry, shows that innovation in technology is a part – but only a part – of what will make passengers return to the buses in greater numbers.

“Buses have the potential to play a central role, particularly in cities of the future where the idea of mobility as a service is already becoming a reality. But, as these case studies show, the industry has to move fast to keep up with the game and deliver the kinds of services that modern passengers are coming to expect.” 

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