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July 18 2018
By Mel Holley

A former routeone editor, Mel has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

The world is changing: get used to it

Change in public transport - and indeed coach travel - is nothing new, but the pace of change appears to be accelerating.

Investment in high-quality vehicles and route upgrades does work

The Department for Transport’s newly-released ‘ report sets out how people’s views are changing

Among its findings are that opposition to taking the bus instead of short car trips has also declined.

The proportion disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that “Many of the journeys of less than 2 miles that I now make by car I could just as easily go by bus” has fallen from 45% in 2006 to 38% in 2017.

Curiously, this doesn’t seem to match with overall figures of decline in bus use, which has prompted the Transport Select Committee to set up an inquiry.

We know that in some areas, some operators are seeing growth on some routes, but they are in the minority.

You may draw the conclusion that people say they would be willing, but are not likely to follow that up with action.

It may be that where there is investment in high-quality buses and infrastructure, growth will come. Indeed there is plenty of evidence that this is the case.

But investment needs more than shiny new buses. It needs councils to work hand in glove with operators to deliver and - let’s be blunt - it needs more operators to be willing to deliver a top-notch service.

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