It is time for a joined up approach with local authorities setting targets for bus use
The Go-Ahead Group warmly welcomes today’s report from the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, which calls for a national strategy to support bus use across the United Kingdom.
A dedicated national strategy for Britain’s buses is long overdue. The Government has strategies for walking, cycling, for the railways and aviation yet there’s no joined-up strategy for buses, which account for two thirds of public transport journeys.
More than 3.5 million people travel to work by bus and many more rely on them for access to schools, hospitals, shops and local services. As this country faces an epidemic of loneliness, it’s vital that we ensure communities are connected.
Too often, we are seeing housing developments built with no thought paid to bus links, leading to sterile, isolated communities dependant on car use. Buses need to be considered in the planning process at the very beginning of new housing developments.
We fully endorse the committee’s call upon the Government for a joined up approach with local authorities to set targets for bus use. We urge a co-ordinated approach, too, in tackling worsening traffic congestion and in giving buses the road space they need to complete journeys on time.
The Go-Ahead Group proposes four key elements to a national bus strategy:
- Society. Put buses at the heart of planning for schools, hospitals, housing, town centres and social services.
- Targets. Challenge local authorities and bus operators by setting demanding targets for passenger numbers, punctuality and journey times.
- Standards. Flexible partnerships between local authorities and commercial bus operators that play to each other’s strengths and tackle the ‘postcode lottery’ in provision for quality bus services.
- Green technology. Accelerate the shift to ultra-low and zero emissions vehicles to improve air quality for all.
The Go-Ahead Group firmly believes that buses are best delivered through private-sector operators working with local authorities in partnerships that permit commercial freedom and are responsive to changing customer demand.
In spite of a negative national trend, passenger numbers on Go-Ahead’s bus services outside London are growing, with a particularly positive trend in Brighton, Southampton and Plymouth. In Swindon, Go-Ahead’s acquisition of a municipal bus company, Thamesdown, in February 2017 has led to a turnaround in performance with both passenger numbers and satisfaction rising