We all know our Prime Minister loves buses, indeed he builds model buses in his spare time… However for many of us the bus is vital, yet often expensive and minging way to get to work, socialise or get to important appointments. Some call them tramp trains because they’re messy, smelly and serving only the city centres, some get frustrated when they’re delayed and in some areas there are no buses available at all.
The Government has launched a new bus strategy backed by £3bn investment to help set up more frequent, affordable, regular and accessible services all over the country. The Prime Minister and DfT understand that by levelling up bus services, more people will consider using a bus rather than a car.
Some of the changes announced so far include simpler fares with daily price capping, services of an evening and weekend, integrated ticketing across all modes of transport – yes from bus to tram to train and ensuring all buses will accept contactless payments (something our MP staff have sadly found rarely exists outside of London! There’s got to be some benefits to the pandemic right?)
Cleaner buses are also being developed using electricity or hydrogen, making for quieter and cleaner travel, something I am sure you will appreciate if you have ever stood at a bus station or transport hub for five minutes or longer. Local authorities will also be entering into statutory enhanced partnerships and franchising agreements to help deliver these improvements with bus operators. This is particularly good news for rural residents, who often see their bus routes cut by the private operators simply because they’re not commercially successful.
Bus service operators may also see a bonus as the PM wants a review of the Bus Service Operators Grant and options to run rural ‘on demand’ services.
Another aim is to make buses easier to use and understand, more accessible for wheelchairs, blind and hearing impaired and seeing what more can be done to help disabled people feel more confident with using buses.
These changes will be very telling for Boris’ levelling up plans, if he can’t help us catch a bus, what can he do? Though with his love for the big red buses of London, we fully expect him to engage and deliver!