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Transforming bus services: new report from Campaign for Better Transport

6 September 2019

Following the announcement by the Chancellor in his Spending Round of £200 million to "put the wheels back on the Great British Bus", Campaign for Better Transport today sets out the policy interventions the Government should pursue to support this vital transport mode, including:

  • Better journey planning and data availability so passengers are able to plan effectively
  • Reducing the cost of travel to make buses more affordable
  • Moving the UK bus fleet to zero emissions in order to meet air quality and net zero targets
  • New models of delivery and funding
  • Setting out a longer term policy framework; including a rural mobility strategy and national bus strategy

There are 4.4 billion journeys made by bus each year, accounting for 59 per cent of all public transport journeys. In recent years, however, falling passenger numbers and serious reductions in services have left many communities disconnected from the public transport system, increasing social isolation and stifling local economies.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Buses are the backbone of transport networks across the country, connecting communities, getting people to and from work, and supporting the economy. The Chancellor's announcement of £200m should be used to kick-start a longer-term programme of change that improves local bus services. The Government needs to bring forward a National Bus Strategy and comprehensive settlement in the next three year Spending Review."

The future of the bus recommends a number of key interventions to help local authorities and bus operators increase ridership, integrate buses with other modes and set a path to zero emissions. These include:

  • A bus manufacturing sector deal to make the UK a world leader in zero emission buses
  • A deadline of 2025 for a zero emission bus fleet facilitated by a bus fleet and depot overhaul programme
  • Smart ticketing and mobility credits to reduce the cost of travel
  • Support for local authorities; both in terms of local multi-year funding and capacity building
  • National innovation and integration funding to ensure buses are part of the transport network of the future.

Example intervention 1: Mobility credits

Mobility credits should be used to encourage the shift to public transport. Credits equivalent to 30 days' free travel on public transport could be offered to people who scrap an older, polluting car. They could also be given at key life moments, such as when people move home or start a new job, to encourage the use of public transport.

Example intervention 2: 'Uber-style' buses

There should be financial support to trial demand-responsive transport in rural areas. With the right technology, service coordination and effective marketing, 'Uber-style' buses could serve lower-density population areas where supported services are no longer viable in their current form.

Example intervention 3: Bus manufacturing sector deal

The Government should set a deadline for all new buses to be zero emissions (electric or hydrogen) by 2025. To support this, it should invest in the capacity of the UK bus industry to transform vehicle fleets. A manufacturing sector deal would ensure the future viability and growth of UK bus manufacturers, create high skilled jobs and make the UK a world leader in zero emission buses.


For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. Read The future of the bus

2. Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. We campaign to bring sustainable transport to all and ensure solutions are delivered that improve the wellbeing of communities, quality of life and the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).