Talking to fellow passengers on buses will reduce loneliness and social isolation

Posted On: 
1st February 2019

Go Ahead has this week launched 'chatty' bus services with a series of community events to reduce loneliness and foster stronger community ties.

Go Ahead has this week launched 'chatty' bus services with a series of community events to reduce loneliness
Credit: 
Go Ahead

One of the UK’s largest public transport operators is increasing its efforts in the fight against loneliness and social isolation with the launch of a new “chatty bus” campaign across its operations, encouraging passengers to talk to someone new every day

The campaign kicks off today with activities taking place in Brighton, Hull, Horsham, Newcastle, Plymouth, Oxford and Eastleigh.

On the day, all Go Ahead’s local bus operators will have their designated chatty bus service, where passengers will be able to enjoy conversations, a cup of tea, and some locations will even offer a piano for a sing-a-long.

These services will have chatty bus ambassadors on board who will be distributing ‘happy to chat’ badges to interested passengers.

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani, said: “Transport has a vital role to play in tackling loneliness and bringing people together. Something as simple as a bus journey can put a smile on someone’s face”.

“This is why we are working with providers to ensure that transport is accessible in every sense of the word, and I am delighted to see such an innovative approach from Go-Ahead.”

Minister for Loneliness Mims Davies said: “Go-Ahead’s chatty bus programme is a simple but powerful way to bring people together. 

"Loneliness is one of the biggest public health challenges this country faces, and we are working with businesses, charities and councils across the country to help tackle it. 

"The chatty bus is a wonderful example of how companies can play a key role in combating social isolation.” 

The launch follows research which shows that three in ten Britons go at least one day a week without speaking to anyone close to them.

However, buses can provide a vital lifeline for many of those living in isolation - A third (33 per cent) of Britons admit that they deliberately catch the bus to interact with others.

What’s more, two-thirds of bus users also say that services create strong community ties, and eight out of 10 know someone who depends on the bus.

And the problem is not just one affecting the UK’s older generation, with 83 per cent of younger people admitting they are affected by loneliness. A recent survey by the Young Women’s Trust showed that one in four 18 – 30-year olds feel isolated.

Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive David Brown said: “The launch of our chatty bus campaign is the first step we are taking to encourage people to reach out to those around them.  Loneliness is a major issue in modern society and can have the same impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“We know how important buses are in the daily lives of many people but knowing that a third of people catch the bus to have some human contact illustrates this further.”

“Reliable, clean and friendly services create social cohesion taking people to the day’s work and leisure, and thanks to the positive impact of a sociable bus journey, it will avoid unnecessary welfare cuts elsewhere in the business.”

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “A bus service can make the difference between someone being able see friends and family - or going for days or weeks in isolation. The chatty bus service takes things a step further by using the space on the bus as a place for connections to thrive. We welcome Go-Ahead’s work and want all bus users to take part.”

Go-Ahead has also signed the Government’s Employers Pledge, which commits firms to working to improve social connections and tackle loneliness at all levels.