Greener Journeys claims increasing congestion is pushing down bus use, with London bus use down 3% on previous year
The Department for Transport has released its quarterly bus statistics, which revealed that the provisional number of local bus passenger journeys in England was 4.53 billion in the year to end March 2016, a 2.5% decrease on the previous year.
The downward trend in bus use in England outside London continued, with a decrease of 2.1%. In London, bus use decreased by 3%. In English metropolitan areas, the decrease was 3.1%, while there was a smaller decrease of 1.3% in English non-metropolitan areas. Overall, bus use outside London decreased by 2.1%, or 48 million passenger journeys, to 2.24 billion, while bus use inside London dropped by 70 million to 2.29 billion.
Over the same period, bus fares increase by 1.8%, while the retail prices index increased by 1.6%. London saw a 1.2% increase, English metropolitan a 2.3% increase, and English non-metropolitan a 2.0% increase.
The report said local bus fares in England have increase by 63% on average between March 2005 and March 2016. The rate was faster in metropolitan areas (75%) than non-metropolitan areas (47%). Over the same period, the retail price index increase by 37%.
Scotland saw passenger numbers fall by 1.7% and fares rise by 2.8%. Wales saw a 3.4% fall in passenger numbers and a 0.4% increase in fares.
In England, passenger numbers fell particularly sharply in the first quarter of 2016, with a 4.1% fall in London and 2.2% decrease in England outside London.
Claire Haigh, CEO of Greener Journeys, responded to the figures on the organisation’s blog.
She said: “Increasing congestion looks set to push down bus use even further. These figures demonstrate the clear link between rising congestion and declining bus use and serve to highlight the key recommendations of a recent study by Greener Journeys.
“At the national level, the Bus Services Bill has just begun its long journey through Parliament. Greener Journeys is calling for the Bus Services Bill to set guidance encouraging local authorities and bus operators to set targets for average bus speeds.”