Bus strategy needed, urges Committee

A bus strategy to pull the sector out of decline has been called for by the Government’s Transport Committee.

The downfall for buses is being caused by a lack of co-ordinated Government policy and squeezed funding for local authorities, according to the Committee. It observed most parts of England saw bus use fall and hundreds of bus routes have been withdrawn.

The Committee urges the Government to set out clear ambitions for bus use and specific plans for how it will support local authorities to improve bus services and increase passenger numbers. It believes a single bus strategy, as for rail and road investment, would give a focus to funding, planning and work to improve air quality.

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CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “An agreed strategy with clear targets for growth, a stable, long-term approach to funding and an evidence-based approach to tackling congestion – the biggest single barrier to bus travel – is essential to making the most of the huge potential of the bus.

“Delivering high quality bus services is a shared responsibility and a national strategy can provide a sound basis for government, operators and local authorities to work together to make bus travel even more attractive to passengers, reduce congestion and improve our environment.”

Claire Haigh, CEO of Greener Journeys, said: “A strategy for buses, aligned with a more stable multi-year funding regime, will help local decision makers to maximise the wider benefits of buses. A 10% improvement in bus service connectivity can deliver a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation. Every £1 invested in bus infrastructure can deliver up to £8 of wider benefits for local economies.

“We also strongly agree with the Transport Select Committee that the strategy should include targets for modal switch from car to bus.”

David Sidebottom, Director at Transport Focus, said: “A national bus strategy is welcome as nearly half of passengers surveyed in Transport Focus’s Bus Passenger Survey say that the bus is the only real means of transport available to them, so it’s vital that their service is on time, reliable and offers good value for money.”

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, suggested bringing buses under public ownership. He said: “MPs are right to call for a national bus strategy and municipal bus services. They are also right to warn that the scourge of long hours and low pay in the bus industry threatens passenger service and safety. Only by returning our entire bus network to public ownership can we have the affordable services that our communities need.”

The report can be read here

Bus strategy by 2020

The Committee calls on Government to bring forward a national bus strategy by the end of 2020. This should:

  • Set out plans for making the full suite of operating models, including franchising and the ability to create new municipal bus companies, available equally to all local authorities with guidance on each;
  • Describe a more stable multi-year funding model for local transport, including bus services, with clear strategy and details of bid-for funding;
  • Assess the evidence for the effectiveness of bus priority measures and provide information on good practice;
  • Set and track targets for modal shift and provide a framework to provide guidance for local authorities to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto buses.

 

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