Passenger satisfaction varies widely, says survey

Bus passenger satisfaction varies widely in England, according to the latest report from independent watchdog Transport Focus.

The ‘Your Bus Journey’ study found 80% of those travelling said they were satisfied with their last journey. It found passengers in East Riding of Yorkshire and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole the most satisfied overall with their journey at 90%. While passengers in West Yorkshire were the least satisfied with 73%.

In its first year, the survey has gathered passenger feedback on more than 35,000 journeys in England. The survey looks at how satisfied passengers are with their most recent journey and a range of other key factors such as their experience on board the bus, at the bus stop, with the bus driver and if they think the journey provided good value for money.


Results show significant variation in scores for waiting times and bus punctuality across the areas surveyed. Even in better scoring areas, congestion in peak travel periods is a challenge for operators and reflected in the scores given by passengers.

Nearly half of passengers surveyed in Transport Focus’s survey (48%) say that the bus was the only real means of transport available to make that journey.

Overall, 67% of fare paying passengers say they are satisfied with value for money. Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, the introduction of the £2 single fare cap and other ticket deals, results appear to have held up – with those in rural areas taking longer distance journeys often benefiting the most. Where value for money ratings are lower, Transport focus says this may be attributed to less reliable journeys or tickets and passes used by frequent travellers that have increased in price in the past year.

“As congestion continues to bite, government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy” – David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus

David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “It is good to see many passengers are satisfied with their journey. 80 per cent overall satisfaction is a good start. However, wide variation in scores show that some passengers are being let down.

“As congestion continues to bite, government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy.

“We’ll be using the results from this survey as a benchmark for local transport authorities and bus operators to drive improvements and attract more people onto buses.”

Following the significant Government investment to make buses better in the National Bus Strategy and £2 bus fare cap, Transport Focus wants to see the industry deliver on its commitment to make buses more reliable and frequent and better value for money.

Key highlights include:

  • Value for money: the greatest range of scores across the survey are for value for money. Passenger scores range from 87% (East Riding of Yorkshire) down to 55% (Brighton and Hove and West of England and North Somerset)
  • Punctuality: overall, 70% of passengers are satisfied with the punctuality of the bus. Passenger scores range from 86% (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) down to 62% (West Midlands).
  • Waiting times: waiting time scores also show a significant variation across the survey ranging from 82% in Greater Nottingham down to 60% in the Tees Valley and Durham.
  • Satisfaction with the bus driver consistently scores the highest – with 85% satisfied overall.

Transport Focus is to continue to use the survey to make the case for future improvements and identify good practice.

Industry welcomes report’s findings

The industry has welcomed the report’s findings. Graham Vidler, CEO for the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “It’s great to see eight out of ten passengers were satisfied with their last bus journey, and even better to see satisfaction as high as 90% in some areas – such as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole or the East Riding of Yorkshire. To drive improvements for bus passengers right across the country, operators and local authorities will want to learn from these high performing places.

“These results also highlight the persistent challenge posed by road congestion when it comes to delivering reliable, punctual bus services, especially in peak periods. This is why it’s vital local authorities invest in measures to give buses priority on key routes, and it’s why CPT is calling on the next government to require all local authorities to improve bus speeds by 10% over the next five years.

“Given that bus drivers are the most thanked profession in the country2, it’s also gratifying for bus operators to learn that this survey also found 85% of passengers were satisfied with their bus driver.”

Richard Hoare, area director for Arriva North West, said: “I welcome this report and it is satisfying to see that in the North West in particular are results to be proud of.

“However, we are never complacent and we look forward to working with Transport Focus to drive further improvements.

“Our customers are great at speaking to us as a bus operator, too, and we always listen to their feedback and make any improvements we can, based on what they say.

“Another thing is also clear from this report: a lot of people use buses because of the environmental benefits and because it’s a value-for-money transport option so that means we must do all we can to make sure that we’re delivering great service in terms of reliability and punctuality.”

Michael Solomon Williams form Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This survey shows that people really value a good, reliable bus service. Local buses are crucial to communities and the economy, but with more than a quarter of English bus services lost in the last decade, we need to ensure that buses are a priority for transport investment and long-term government support.”

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