More to be done to improve satisfaction, says Transport Focus

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.
The report found an overall satisfaction rate of 80%. TRANSPORT FOCUS

According to a new report by Transport Focus, 80% of those travelling by bus say they are satisfied with their last journey. The first year results for 2023 from the watchdog’s new Your Bus Journey survey showed passenger satisfaction varying widely, with passengers in East Riding of Yorkshire and in the Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole conurbation the most satisfied overall with their journey at 90%, whilst passengers in West Yorkshire were the least satisfied at 73%, a figure which will buoy those in favour of the recently-announced move to franchising in the region.

Carried out for the first time in 2023, the survey gathered passenger feedback on more than 35,000 journeys in England, looking at how satisfied passengers are with their most recent journey and a range of other key factors such as their experience on board the bus, at the bus stop, with the bus driver and whether they think the journey provided good value for money.

Results showed significant variation in scores for waiting times and bus punctuality across the areas surveyed, and Transport Focus found that even in better scoring areas, congestion in peak travel periods remains a challenge for operators and was reflected in the scores given by passengers.

Nearly half of passengers surveyed said that the bus was the only real means of transport available to make that journey, highlighting further the need for punctual, reliable and good value services.

Overall, 67% of fare-paying passengers said they are satisfied with value for money. Against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, Transport Focus believes that the introduction of the £2 single fare cap and other ticket deals have helped the results in this category, with those in rural areas taking longer distance journeys often benefiting the most; where value for money ratings are lower, it believes this may be attributed to less reliable journeys or tickets and passes used by frequent travellers that have increased in price in the past year.

Transport Focus director David Sidebottom said: “It is good to see many passengers are satisfied with their journey. 80% overall satisfaction is a good start. However, wide variation in scores show that some passengers are being let down. As congestion continues to bite, the Government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy.

“We’ll be using the results from this survey as a benchmark for local transport authorities and bus operators to drive improvements and attract more people onto buses.”

Building on Government investment in the National Bus Strategy and £2 fare cap, Transport Focus now wants to see the industry deliver on its commitment to make buses more reliable and frequent and better value for money.

Some other highlights from the report include:

  • Value for money: the greatest range of scores across the survey are in this category, and range from 87% in the East Riding of Yorkshire down to 55% in Brighton & Hove and the West of England and North Somerset region.
  • Punctuality: overall, 70% of passengers said they are satisfied with the punctuality of the bus. Scores range from 86% in the Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole area down to 62% in the West Midlands.
  • Waiting times: scores in this area also show a significant variation across the survey ranging from 82% in Greater Nottingham down to 60% in the Tees Valley and Durham.
  • Satisfaction with the driver consistently scores the highest, with 85% of users satisfied overall.

Transport Focus says that as a key metric to monitor and evaluate Bus Service Improvement Plans, it will work with transport authorities and bus operators to fully understand the results and focus on plans to improve the passenger experience and attract new passengers onto bus, as well as using the results of its survey to further make the case for future improvements and identify good practice, helping transport authorities, operators and the Government to invest in the most relevant way possible.