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February 06 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Bus passenger numbers in England down by 1.9%

Drop is highest outside London although passenger satisfaction rate remains high; mileage also reduces

Outside London, passenger numbers in England fell by 3.2% in 2017/18

Local bus passenger journey numbers in England fell by 85m, or 1.9%, to 4.36bn in the year ending March 2018, Department for Transport statistics reveal.

Outside London, the decrease was 3.2%. In the capital, use dropped by 0.7%. Bus mileage in England shrunk by 3.4% to 1.2bn vehicle miles over the same period. London accounts for 51% of passenger journeys in England, but only 25% of vehicle miles.

Concessionary share

In England outside London, 30% of passenger journeys were made by concessionary pass holders – double that share in London. £1bn was paid as reimbursement for concessionary travel.

In terms of passenger journeys per head, Brighton and Hove, Nottingham and Reading remained the highest, with 171, 145 and 133 respectively. The lowest number of journeys per head was in Rutland, with just two.

70 of the 88 local authorities in England outside London saw a drop in bus use per head between 2009/10 and 2017/18. Commercial mileage in England outside London dropped by 3.5% over the year to 2017/18; 12.7% of mileage is now supported.

In 2017/18, fares in England rose by 2.8% and total estimated operating revenue was £5.52bn. £3.22bn came from fares, with the remainder made up of BSOG, payments for running supported services and concessionary reimbursement.

Satisfaction high

Overall journey satisfaction among passenger outside London rose slightly, to 88%; satisfaction with punctuality, journey length and value for money remained unchanged. The number of women among driving staff grew to 12% in 2017/18, up from 9% the previous year.

Labour has claimed that bus fares will continue to rise at a rate faster than the rate of inflation, and that operators are “running services into the ground” while “raking in billions of pounds” in profits.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport has responded by saying that the UK as a whole has its cleanest and most environmentally-friendly bus fleet and that operators are investing in many other things that increase passenger appeal.

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