New research outlines ways to attract people on board

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Independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus (TF) is calling for a continued focus on delivering more frequent, reliable and value for money bus services to help attract new passengers. TF spoke to more than 200 people to understand current barriers to bus use and what more could be done to help people chose to travel by bus.

According to its survey, the majority (70%) of non-users said they don’t travel by bus because they prefer to travel by car. Other reasons included the bus being less convenient (27%) and journeys taking too long (26%). It found the top factors that would increase bus use were better value fares, more frequent buses and more reliable services.

Director David Sidebottom said: “Our research shows that while many travel habits post-covid are here to stay, there are significant opportunities for bus operators and local authorities to attract passengers on board. It’s clear that the bus industry is at a crossroads. Operators and local authorities face some tough, unenviable choices in a difficult economic environment. To help more people choose bus it’s essential that services turn up on time and offer good value for money.”

Key survey findings included that the demographic of bus users has changed, and that there is a sizeable group who used to use the bus who have not returned at all since the pandemic. Furthermore, the preference for the car among non-users will continue to be hard to overcome, it found, as the bus is perceived as inconvenient and taking too long, although the capped fare scheme is providing value for money to users, with half of those who have used the scheme using the bus more because of it. The lack of information about services presents an opportunity for the industry, the survey concluded, such as better promotion of routes and schemes such as the £2 bus fare cap, which could encourage lapsed and non-users.