Bus usage remains low but modest growth continues, figures show

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Bus patronage in Britain outside London on Sunday 19 July was 41% of that on an equivalent day, the first time that a figure of 40% or more has been achieved since 21 March. But bus usage is still well below car use as a percentage of an equivalent day, figures from the Department for Transport show.

Passengers are returning less rapidly on weekdays than they are at weekends. The 33% of an equivalent day recorded on both Friday 17 and Monday 21 July is the highest weekday percentage since the onset of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Week-on-week growth remains modest. The seven-day average usage figure as a percentage of an equivalent week rose by 4.29% in week commencing 6 July, but growth fell back to 3.14% in the following seven-day period. In June, that rate had fluctuated between 1.14% and 3.00%.

On Saturday 18 July, bus usage in London reached 50% of that of an equivalent day for the first time since movement restrictions were imposed.

The figure in London was 45% on both days surrounding that weekend, the highest equivalent percentage on a weekday since 20 March. Tube patronage as a percentage of an equivalent day remains generally around half of that recorded by buses in the capital.

The rail industry continues to lag far behind buses in how quickly passengers are returning. Since 23 March, trains have recorded no higher than 22% of the usage numbers on an equivalent day.

Car use, meanwhile, has not fallen below 65% of an equivalent day since 12 June. Four weekend days in July so far have seen figures of 90% or higher. The week-on-week rate at which car use is growing is more variable than for bus patronage. Car use as a percentage of an equivalent week grew by 1.00% in week commencing 5 July, but a fortnight before that it rose by 6.29%.

All bus usage figures outside London are supplied as a percentage of the equivalent day in the third week of January 2020. Those in London are a percentage of the equivalent day in 2019.