The Department for Transport (DfT) has released its quarterly bus statistics for the first quarter of 2017 (Janurary to March), revealing that the provisional number of bus passenger journeys in England was 4.45 billion in the year to end March 2017, a 1.7% decline on the previous year.
Bus use outside London declined by 1.1%, while in London, a more sharp decline of 2.3% was seen. Fares increased by an average of 1.6%, slower than the inflation rate of 3.1%.
Wales was the only region to see an increase in patronage, with an increase of 0.1 billion on the previous year.
First quarter figures alone showed a sharper decline in bus use outside London of 2.7%.
Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The figures are the inevitable consequence of years of cuts to bus funding. Every year, more and more people are losing their local buses and are having to turn to expensive taxis or rely on lifts from other people if they wish to access jobs, education or just see family and friends. This is not good enough.
“The new Bus Services Act does offer hope for some areas. Local authorities can use new powers to protect or even restore bus routes, but we also need long-term, sustainable funding from central Government or we will continue to see buses decline.”