Catching the bus should be as ‘easy as ordering pizza,’ says Transport Focus

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Industry is moving in the right direction, CPT Chief Executive comments

Independent watchdog Transport Focus has called on the bus industry to serve young passengers better in order to secure their future.

Satisfaction with bus services amongst 16 to 18-year-olds increased from 77 to 80% in 2018, but the age group is still the least satisfied according to the latest stats.

Transport Focus’ plea to operators coincided with the release of its latest report, ‘Making bus a better choice for young people,’ on Friday 17.

In the report, which is described as a ‘good practice guide’ for operators and local authorities, the watchdog sets out several key recommendations. These include:

Discounted fares for 16 to 18-year-olds which are easy to buy and understand;

A one-stop nationwide bus app, providing one central, easy-to-use source for information and ticketing across all operators; and

A better onboard experience, including WiFi and USB charging points at every seat.

The 27-page report collates best practice from a series of five workshops held across England in February and March 2019 to discuss Transport Focus research into the experiences and needs of young passengers released in February 2018.

Transport Focus Director David Sidebottom commented: “More bus operators and local authorities are pursuing creative initiatives that encourage young people to catch the bus.

The watchdog suggests creating a one-stop app, providing timetables and ticketing information for all operators nationwide
The watchdog suggests creating a one-stop app, providing timetables and ticketing information for all operators nationwide

“Young people are the biggest users of the bus – but don’t feel services are designed for them.

“Young people want using the bus to be as simple and intuitive as ordering pizza. Bus operators and local authorities must seize the opportunity to cater for their customers of the future.”

CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said that the industry is making progress: “The industry recognises the huge importance of meeting the expectations of younger travellers on services across the country.

“Bus companies continue to invest in services younger passengers expect, and on-board facilities including contactless and mobile ticketing, WiFi, USB charging points and leather seating are now commonplace on many services.

“With the continued development and rollout of mobile apps and websites providing timetable, real-time service updates, bus stop and fares information, taking and planning a bus trip is becoming easier.

“The latest satisfaction statistics clearly demonstrate that the industry is moving in the right direction, but of course there is always room for improvement.

CPT welcomes this report’s recommendations and looks forward to continuing to work closely with its members, central and local Government to further improve the experience of all bus users.”

Featured amongst the report’s good practice case studies is West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Chair of the authority’s transport committee, Cllr Kim Groves, said: “Making bus travel more attractive, accessible and affordable for young people across West Yorkshire is one of the key aims of the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, which was formed out of Bus18 so I’m pleased to see this initiative included as an example of good practice in Transport Focus’s report.

“The report asks whether the scheme could be extended to evenings and weekends and I am looking at ways in which we can forge a new deal as well as doing away with the need for under 16s to show ID to get a reduced fare.”

To view the full report, visit bit.ly/transportfocus2019