Passengers on their local bus are ‘generally content’ with their service, according to Transport Focus’ latest survey, with 86% reporting to be satisfied. This was a slight decrease on last year’s result of 87%. However, the survey of over 40,000 passengers by the independent watchdog found value for money ratings and satisfaction with punctuality vary widely across the country. Fare paying passenger satisfaction with value for money ranged from 41% to 80% (averaging 63%) with a gulf of 39% between the highest and lowest area scores. Satisfaction with punctuality ranged from 64% to 84% (averaging 75%), down from the 2014 figure of 77%.
Overall satisfaction by area was: Transport for Greater Manchester (82%), Merseyside (89%), South Yorkshire (85%), Tyne and Wear (88%), West Midlands (85%), West Yorkshire (87%), Tees Valley Group (90%), West of England Partnership (89%), Blackpool (89%), Devon (89%), East Sussex (88%), Essex (79%), Gloucestershire (91%), Kent (83%), Lancashire (86%), Luton (86%), Milton Keynes (81%), Norfolk (89%), North East Lincolnshire (90%), North Yorkshire (94%), Nottinghamshire (94%), Oxfordshire (88%), Staffordshire (89%) and York (90%).
The highest overall satisfaction score amongst operators was recorded at Nottingham City
Transport (NCT), with 97%. NCT MD, Mark Fowles, said, ‘We continually aim to provide the best public transport service in Nottingham and are delighted that not only do we achieve that, but we also scored the highest operator score in the country. After a long period of major infrastructure works in the city, it’s reassuring to see we are scoring increased customer satisfaction scores. Our drivers have done a tremendous job dealing with congestion throughout those works and these scores reflect their increased rating with general helpfulness and attitude but also helping customers in difficult conditions.’
Topping the figures for overall satisfaction with bus journeys amongst the ‘big five’ operators were Arriva and Go-Ahead, both at 89%. FirstBus achieved 84%, National Express 85% and Stagecoach 86%. Overall satisfaction scores for other operators were: Abellio in Surrey (83%), Blackpool Transport (89%), Diamond Bus in West Midlands (87%), Hedingham and Chambers (86%), Konectbus (96%), Metrobus (89%), Oxford Bus Park and Ride services (92%), Reading Buses (93%), Thames Travel (89%) and trentbarton (96%).
Passenger Director of Transport Focus, David Sidebottom, said, ‘Passengers tell us that they want a bus service that is punctual, reliable and offers value for money. Such a wide range of value for money and punctuality scores across the country shows there is still room for improvement. With lots of debate and decisions being made about how bus services up and down the country are run we hope that government, transport authorities and bus companies work together to use these findings to improve the things that matter most for passengers – a consistent, punctual, reliable and value for money bus service. Understanding what drives improved passenger satisfaction, and then delivering that more consistently, is one way of getting more people to use buses.’
CPT’s Chief Executive, Simon Posner, said, ‘Achieving an overall satisfaction rate of 86% would be the envy of many industries and bus operators can be justifiably proud of their record. Once again, these high scores have been achieved by working closely with local authorities and stakeholders proving once again that the partnership approach works. This figure is a slight reduction on last year’s, which is disappointing, but it is important to identify the reasons. Concerns over punctuality and journey times largely account for the reduced overall figure. This can easily be explained. Traffic congestion is now a major problem and bus operators face a daily battle to adhere to timetables. But achieving an 86% satisfaction rate demonstrates that despite these issues, bus operators continue to deliver for their passengers.’
To download the full Bus Passenger Survey report, visit: www.transportfocus.org.uk/research/publications/bus-passenger-survey-full-report-autumn-2015