The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) welcomes the latest round of government support as a means of making buses more affordable
It has been a frenetic few weeks for the bus sector since the last issue of routeone, with three-month extensions of the Bus Recovery Grant and £2 single fare cap in England, and of the Bus Emergency Scheme in Wales.
The Scottish Government is taking a different approach, establishing a ministerial-led taskforce to tackle barriers to bus growth and match-funding a national bus marketing campaign, which we expect to start in April.
We do, of course, welcome governments’ extension of the Bus Recovery Grant and Bus Emergency Scheme, which will help protect vital passenger services in England and Wales for a further three months. It is now critical all parties use this extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and, instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social wellbeing potential of buses. This is why, on behalf of our members, CPT will continue our engagement with all levels of UK governments.
As we know, there is a strong business and “levelling up” case for investing in bus. A bus provides vital community links, particularly for those one in four people without access to a car. In addition, the poorest fifth of households are three times more likely to use the bus than the richest fifth. A 10% increase in bus connectivity reduces deprivation by 3.6% and increases incomes and life expectancy due to better access to employment, training and education opportunities.
The continuation of the £2 fare cap is also a good move to help make buses more attractive during a cost-of-living crisis and we will work with our members to understand how they can maintain this initiative.
Anecdotally, it was encouraging to see the positive international headlines that writer Emily Turner generated in her journey from London to Scotland using only the £2 bus fare cap. Although it is too early to judge the overall success of this scheme, low fares have a huge role to play in making bus travel more attractive to passengers. This is especially so if combined as part of a wider package of policies, including bus priority measures to make journeys more reliable.
Lastly, I look forward to welcoming CPT members to the UK Bus and Coach Conference in Birmingham on 30-31 March. Spanning two packed days, the event will bring together operators large and small with supply chain, key stakeholders and government to debate, discuss and share experience of the big issues facing our industry.
We are delighted that routeone will be our media partners throughout the event and Editor Tim Deakin will be chairing the panel entitled: “Who’s in the driving seat? Is tech taking over?” discussing the role of autonomous technology in the coach and bus sector. So don’t miss out. Book your place here.
Graham Vidler is Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport.