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Statistics show increasing demand for buses, but vital services threatened by budget cuts

23 September 2014

Three percent more journeys are being made by bus, figures released by the Department for Transport show today, but those who need their local bus service most – those on low incomes and in rural areas – will be finding it increasingly difficult to access buses because fares are rising above inflation and local authorities are having to cut bus support.

Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“Where good bus services are provided, it's good news that more people are using them. But the groups who rely most on getting around by bus – young people, older people and workers on relatively low incomes – are seeing their local bus services get cut by councils under financial pressure, and where services remain, fares are rising faster than wages. This is leaving whole communities stranded without public transport access to vital services like education, health and shops.”

Angry and despairing communities including the Save the Upper Swaledale Bus Campaign in North Yorkshire and Save Our Buses Hertfordshire are campaigning to save vital bus services from millions of pounds’ worth of cuts. Overall, £24 million is in the process of being cut from supported bus services.

The DfT statistics released today show that passenger journeys increased by 2% in the year to March 2014 to 4.7 billion, but this figure masks a big regional variation, with much faster growth in the South and East compared with the North and West. This is part of a longer trend: since 2004-05, passenger numbers in the north and west are DOWN 9.5 percent but are UP +9.3 percent in the South and East. Bus mileage continues to decline - down 0.3 percent in the latest year. Reductions are mainly due to reductions in local authority supported services outside London. This fell 7 percent and is now 24 percent lower than 2009-10.

Martin Abrams went on:

“We need the Government to recognise the importance of bus services to the country’s most vulnerable groups, and commit to protecting bus services in all areas – not just leaving companies to pick up the profitable routes and forcing councils to make disastrous savings on essential routes.”


For further information please contact Chloë Darlington at Campaign for Better Transport, on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or chloe.darlington@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
  2. Department for Transport bus statistics 2013-14 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/357137/annual-bus-statistics-year-to-march-2014.pdf.