Improving accessibility, a lifting of restrictions on concessionary passes and a legal requirement for local authorities to provide socially necessary services are key on Bus Users’ UK’s 2024 Manifesto for Bus Services.
The charity has outlined a 10-point wishlist for the next elected government, asking politicians to prioritise promoting green public transport over private car usage.
The document refers to Bus Users UK’s hopes for restrictions to be lifted on peak-time and cross-border concessionary travel. It also asks for an update of Section 63 of the 1985 Transport Act on the definition of socially necessary services, with appropriate ring-fenced funding for local authorities to go along with that.
Noting a mixed picture for UK bus services “with bus mileage down and passenger journeys up”, bus priority measures, multimodal transport integration and simplified fares are also included.
On accessibility, the organisation also asks that people with lived experiences of a disability or a mental or physical health condition are involved in decision-making.
Pushing inclusivity, Bus Users UK asks for engagement with education centres, charities, care homes, places of worship, local employers and medical centres as well as current transport providers to ensure meets are being met. It also encourages operators to make their complaints procedures clear and accessible.
Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, says: “Bus services are the most accessible, affordable and used form of public transport and the lifeblood of local communities. But they have been failed by transport policy that consistently favours the private car regardless of the social, environmental and economic cost.
“Initiatives such as England’s fare cap and Scotland’s free travel for young people are clearly having an impact, but bus mileage continues to fall as operators manage rising costs, short-term funding and congestion. We need to radically rethink the way we travel and we would urge the newly elected government to prioritise public, shared and active travel for a healthier and more sustainable future.”