Bus statistics show damage of Covid
Positive messaging needed to increase patronage, says CPT
Statistics from the DfT charting bus use for the year ending March 2021 show the number of local bus passenger journeys in England fell by 2.5 billion or 61% to 1.57 billion. The DfT’s report on this says the fall can largely be attributed to nationwide movement restrictions introduced throughout 2020/21 in response to the pandemic.
Bus mileage in England decreased by 16% when compared with 2019/20. Bus mileage was less severely impacted than passenger journeys, which the report says is largely due to the Covid-19 bus service support grant (CBSSG).
In 2020/21, 0.72 billion passenger journeys were made by local bus in England outside London, down 64% when compared with 2019/20. Bus use in England outside London has been on a downward trend since the peak of 2.41 billion passenger journeys in 2008/09. In metropolitan areas, there were 0.32 billion passenger journeys, a decrease of 62% from 2019/20. In non-metropolitan areas, there were 0.4 billion passenger journeys, a decrease of 65%.
“Although government messaging has unfairly singled out public transport during the pandemic demand for bus travel has bounced back more quickly than other forms of public transport” – CPT
In response to the annual bus statistics, a spokesperson from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) said: “Although government messaging has unfairly singled out public transport during the pandemic demand for bus travel has bounced back more quickly than other forms of public transport, now reaching 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Operators are continuing to work with local authorities and others to give customers the confidence to travel helping deliver the Government’s ambitions for a stronger economy, decarbonisation and levelling up.
“To see passenger numbers grow beyond the 10 million journeys per day before the pandemic, we need the ambition in the bus and net zero strategies matched by a proactive and positive message from Government to encourage people back onto the bus. We also need sufficient funding for buses to avoid a two-tier system where investment in the biggest regions means smaller cities and towns are starved of investment for the priorities they have developed with operators to improve services.”
Data provided by transport ticketing specialist Ticketer showed that during the first UK lockdown in March 2020, passenger boardings in England excluding London fell to approximately 10% of those on the same day of the January reference week. As restrictions were eased passenger boardings increased, peaking at approximately 55% when children returned to school in September 2020. During the second English lockdown (November 2020) the decrease in passenger boardings fell to approximately 42% of those on the same day of the January reference week. The application of Tier 4 restrictions to large parts of England during December 2020 and the subsequent third English lockdown in January 2021 saw boardings fall to approximately 27% of those on the same day of the January reference week.
As of 2020/21:
- The average age of a bus in England in 2020/21 was 8.5 years and 99% of all buses had been issued with an accessibility certificate. 29% of all buses are in London.
- 95% of buses have CCTV
- 88% of buses were able to take contactless payments
- 52% of buses meet Euro VI standards
- 98% of buses have an AVL device
The full statistics are available here.