Giving passengers a voice
Bus passengers know very little about the way bus services are operated and financed, according to a new study by independent watchdog, Passenger Focus. Another finding of the ‘Giving passengers a voice in bus services’ research was that bus users want their views to be given much more weight when decisions are being made. The work explores what passengers know about how their local bus service is managed, who oversees operators and the role of the local authority. The study also found that bus operating companies are less trusted to consider passengers’ needs, as bus users are aware that they are commercial organisations which operate as such. However, user groups argue that if operators run commercially viable businesses, this is ultimately beneficial to passengers because it protects the provision of services.
Passenger Focus’s research was conducted in early 2013 in two areas: Leeds (where services are co-ordinated by the West Yorkshire PTE) and Cambridge (where the local council is the co-ordinator). The views of a number of bus user group representatives were also sought.
Passenger Focus’s Chief Executive, Anthony Smith, said, ‘There are some really good examples of bus operators and local authorities really engaging with their passengers. This continuous dialogue, which information captured through smart ticketing makes easier, should help more difficult conversations when changes are in the offing and consultation needs to take place. These good examples need to become more widespread if trust is going to be built up with all bus passengers.’
Reading Buses CEO, James Freeman, said, ‘There is still quite a big job to do to convince people that buses are for “winners”. The bus industry and transport authorities need to focus their energies on ‘capturing the hearts’ of people.’
Bus Users UK’s chair, Gillian Merron, said, ‘Bus users want to have their voices heard by the right people in the right places. It makes good sense to engage properly with them to bring about quality bus services in all communities.’
Go to http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/research/publications/giving-passengers-a-voice-in-bus-services to read the full report.