Buses drive jobs and growth, says major report as bus companies announce plan for discounted travel for unemployed young people

3 July 2012  •  Source: Stagecoach

Bus travel is a key contributor to economic and social well-being, according to a new report published today:

  • Bus commuters generate over £64 billion of economic output every year.
  • People use the bus to make shopping and leisure trips with an annual value of £27.2 billion a year.
  • 1 in 10 bus commuters would be forced to look for another job if they could no longer commute by bus.
  • More than 50% of students are frequent bus users and depend on the bus to access education or training.

The Buses & Economic Growth Report, published today, was undertaken by the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds1. It brings together for the first time an assessment of the economic contribution of the bus in growing the economy, connecting people with jobs, helping businesses and supporting the vitality of city centres. It also highlights the significant direct contribution of the bus industry itself in creating employment and investment.

The report’s publication coincides with today’s announcement by Greener Journeys2 to develop a discounted travel scheme to help the one million unemployed young people3 access jobs, education and training more easily. Details of the scheme being developed by the leading bus operators will be announced in the autumn4.

Sir Brian Souter, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “For many young people, the bus is the only form of affordable transport available to them and they depend on it to get to their education or training. The discounted travel scheme being developed by the leading bus operators could make the vital difference between a life of worklessness and getting a job, helping more young people to make a better start in life. This shows just how important the bus is to the future of our country.”

The report highlights the vital role the bus plays in the wider economy:

  • More than five billion bus journeys are made in the UK each year – at least one billion of those bus journeys are made to work.
  • More people commute by bus than all other forms of public transport combined.
  • Bus commuters generate £64 billion of economic output every year.
  • People use the bus to make shopping and leisure trips with an annual value of £27.2 billion, of which £21.5 billion is spent in towns or cities centres.
  • 1 in 10 bus commuters would be forced to look for another job if they could no longer commute by bus.
  • More than 50% of students are frequent bus users and depend on the bus to get to their education or training.
  • An estimated 400,000 people are in work or in a better job because of the availability of a bus service, equating to £400 million additional gross value added (GVA)5 per annum.
  • Bus users recognise a greater personal monetary value to the services they use over what they currently spend and said they would be willing to contribute more to maintain their service – £60 for regular users and £38 for infrequent users (per annum). This amounts to an annual aggregated gross option value of £700 million.
  • The bus industry is a major employer and sizeable contributor to the national economy. It directly employs over 170,000 people, spends £2.5 billion in its supply chain, and supports a further 83,000 jobs through its supply chain, which includes British-based bus manufacturers Alexander Dennis and Optare.

The report was commissioned by Greener Journeys, an alliance of the UK’s leading bus companies and other public transport supporters committed to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “This report shows the value of the bus in generating sustainable economic growth. Buses play a crucial role in oiling the wheels of the economy as well as reducing carbon emissions, helping maintain the fabric of our communities and providing essential transport for the 25% of households without access to a car.”

The report’s author, Professor Peter Mackie of the University of Leeds, said: “The Report demonstrates that buses have a key role to play in growing the economy. The bus is a familiar part of everyday urban life. It receives a fraction of the attention given to rail and car, yet despite being taken for granted it is a vital cog in the wider economy bringing access to jobs and training, facilitating retail spend, and supporting the vitality of our towns and city centres.”

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