‘Mummy’. What’s that?’. ‘That’s called a bus, darling, they used to be everywhere’. Could we see buses disappear from our streets? Well, yes if the current trend continues on its downward path. New analysis just released shows that the number of passenger journeys made is at a 12 year low with public transport campaigners warning of an impending ‘crisis’.
Demand for buses has not been this low since 2006 despite significant investments by bus operators in introducing quieter, more efficient and, more importantly, more environmentally friendly vehicles into their fleets. Unfortunately for them (and their passengers) average fares have risen by 55 per cent on the last decade and funding for supported buses by local authorities has almost halved over the same period.
Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were slashed by £20.5m last year – the eighth consecutive annual government cut according to a study by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT). Faced with the need to find an unprecedented amount of savings, most local authorities are cutting their bus budgets severely. For those that have access to alternative forms of transport that’s no big deal, but in some rural areas it can cause real hardship, A recent report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found the cost of bus travel and the unreliability of services in the North of England was cutting off the poorest families from job opportunities.