But since the UK Government passed on significant cuts to local authority budgets from 2010, nothing short of a Beeching of the Buses has taken place.
During this time 30 million miles of bus journeys have been lost. This has largely been because supported mileage has fallen by 24% since 2010. Bus services supported by local authorities are often the only form of non-car transport in rural areas.
Buses are essential for rural areas and vulnerable groups
Losing bus services is a particular problem for rural and vulnerable groups including:
- Older people. Many older people are unable to drive and so rely on public transport
- Younger people. Young people take fewer car journeys than they did in the past. 17-20 year olds took 377 car trips on average in 2011, compared to 600 in the mid-1990s. Driving licence holding amongst 17-20 year olds has also dropped from 48% in the mid-1990s to 38% today.
- Job-seekers. Two thirds of people claiming job-seekers allowance either do not have access to a car or a licence to drive it.
- Those on low incomes. People in the lowest income group make three times more journeys by bus than those in the highest income group.
- Disabled people. 60% of disabled people have no car in the household and use buses 20% more than those without disabilities.
The future for bus services across large parts of England is now in doubt. The Department for Transport predicts that by 2040 bus journeys will have dropped faster than any other form of transport, while only single passenger car journeys are predicted to rise. This could have severe impacts for England’s rural and vulnerable population.
Source: travel written question
CPRE wants to see the following for bus travel in England:
- Full integration between bus and rail - in terms of ticketing, timetables and publicity, so that there is effectively one network, allowing passengers to change conveniently between different types of transport;
- Priority given to buses in congested areas, to aid reliability, make travelling by bus more competitive with driving, as well as making more bus services commercially viable
- Innovative solutions, such as demand-responsive transport and taxi-buses in rural areas, with fully accessible vehicles appropriate to the task;
- Safeguarding services in rural, not least in evenings and weekends, as funding and powers are devolved to local areas
- More open data for bus services, including real time data for all services, making it easier to plan journeys as well as compare performance and prices between operators.