The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has published a 36-page report into bus patronage trends, which it says, ‘will be remembered as one of the most significant additions to industry knowledge this decade.’
Commissioned by the CPT and carried out by auditing firm KPMG, the report provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting passengers’ demand for buses.
Despite the ongoing trend of falling bus patronage, the report did identify a number of factors which should benefit the industry in the years to come; the population is getting older, household sizes are falling, and more young people are in education or training, for example.
According to the report, just over half of the reduction in bus patronage can be attributed to changing customer needs.
These socio-demographic changes include changes in household car ownership, changes to economic and labour market structures, and changes to the availability and acceptability of alternatives to travel, including online services.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the reduction can be explained by rising fares and falling service quality, says the report.
When it comes to the future, there are some trends highlighted in the report which should prove positive for the industry.
“Times are changing. The young are learning to drive and buying cars much later in life than their parents,” the report reads.
“They appear to be less concerned with asset ownership and are more accepting of the ‘sharing economy.’
“In urban areas in particular, new business models are emerging which are based on a more intensive and shared use of vehicles, made more customer friendly through the use of technology.
“Over the longer term this may encourage people to make more varied transport choices based on the needs of the specific journey they are making.”
Commenting on the report, Director of Policy Development at the CPT, Steven Salmon, said:
“An informed observer could identify the individual trends, but this report is very valuable because, for the first time, it brings all the factors together to give a picture for England.
“There is a wealth of detail in the report, showing significant differences between the conurbations and smaller towns, and between the places in each category. It’s a fascinating read.”