Is your local service under threat, or do you want to campaign for better services? Then contact us for help and advice. The current time is obviously unusual during which public transport patronage has fallen through the floor. Getting passengers back on the bus after the pandemic is going to be incredibly important especially if we are not going to be choked by even greater car use.
We are aware of the large cuts in supported services over the past decade which are mostly funded by local authorities, often uneconomic and more marginal, often in the evenings and weekends, and very often rural. On top of this the Government has reduced the amount it pays for concessionary bus passes which has made a number of previously commercial services unviable, even when they were well used. The final straw for many operators has been the rise in congestion caused by Government spending on roads and a freeze in fuel duty. This has created a vicious circle of fewer passengers, more cars and congestion, slower and more expensive buses and so on.
This triple whammy has hit bus services hard and resulted in the loss of many services, increased prices and unreliable and delayed services as the annual bus statistics show. The result has been that many communities, including some sizeable villages, have found themselves isolated in public transport deserts. Young and old have been left stranded unless they can afford, often expensive, taxi fares. Part of the problem is that buses and coaches are also the only major transport sector without a national strategy and long term funding plan, an issue raised by the Transport Select Committee.
Depending on your circumstances and the type of service you are trying to protect or want to see provided, there are a number of different things you can do. Many of these are set out in Campaign for Better Transport's Save our Buses Campaign Pack. It's well worth a look and should give you some ideas to start off with, but if you can't find what you are after please get in touch. If you live in London the issues are slightly different as there bus services are franchised so Transport for London has control over services and ticket prices. Elsewhere, while franchising can be an option, often the powers have to be requested and a case made for this to happen under the Bus Services Act 2017. However, the Act isn't just about franchising and does expand the opportunities for local authorities to have greater influence on bus services in their area. Campaign for Better Transport has produced some guidance on the Act as well as a report on the future of rural bus services.
Finally, if you live in Manchester, you might want to get involved with the Better Buses for Greater Manchester campaign which is arguing for greater regulation to simplify ticketing, better timetabling and more evening and weekend services amongst other reasons.