Bus is city visitors’ first choice

A new academic study reveals more people use the bus to get into our cities than any other form of transport, bringing billions of pounds into city centres. The study by the University of Leeds, commissioned by Greener Journeys, revealed 33% of city centre visitors made their most recent trip by bus, more than any other mode of transport, with 30% making their most recent trip by car, 22% cycling or walking and 15% boarding the train. It also found bus users spend an average £54 per city centre trip and make up 29% of all city centre spending. People who walk spend on average £41. The research suggested 30% of shoppers rely on the bus as they have no access to a car or van, with a further 6% having only infrequent access.

Researchers questioned almost 4,000 UK residents who live outside of London and are over 17 years of age. The research also showed that 30% of people have no access to a car, with a further 6% only having infrequent access, emphasising how invaluable public transport is for access to shops and services. Further questioning revealed that without bus services, 16% of bus users would not have undertaken their planned activity, 4% would have switched to shopping from home and 24% would have travelled to a different location.

Altogether, when all shopping and entertainment destinations are considered, buses are the second most common form of transport and bus users are responsible for 22% of spending. 22% of respondents got on the bus last time they went shopping and of those with limited availability to cars, this rose to over a third. In town centres, cars were the most popular transport choice, 47% travelled by car in their latest visit, 28% walked or cycled and 23% used the bus. Across all destinations, when questioned on why they preferred the bus, 23% said they found it less expensive, with 17% indicating it was an easier option and a further 14% suggesting it avoided parking difficulties.

Transport Minister, Baroness Kramer, said, ‘This study shows how buses enable millions of shoppers to get to the shops and businesses that are the crucial backbone of our economy. Supporting and sustaining affordable, accessible bus services is key to strengthening our high streets, helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to prosper and ensuring communities across Britain continue to thrive.’

Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, Claire Haigh, said, ‘These figures highlight the crucial importance of reliable, frequent bus services to the health and prosperity of shops and businesses across the UK and especially to those in the centre of our biggest cities. Thriving, vibrant city centres are a crucial part of the economic and social fabric of this country and Government, councils and businesses should all take notice of the vital importance of good bus services to their ongoing success. The research outlines that people want more frequent, more reliable bus services to ensure they can travel to town and city centres. This means, as we outline in our Bus 2020 Manifesto, it is essential that Government expand the support available to local authorities and bus operators for installing bus lanes and other priority measures.’

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