At a hearing by the Transport Select Committee this week, stakeholders from the bus and coach sector called for clear methods for delivering the anticipated National Bus Strategy.
The impact of Covid on the industry was outlined, including the ability of people to work from home and the rise in popularity of home delivery services reducing the reliance on buses. With this in mind, it was stated that bus usage is critical for the government to hit broader targets such as net-zero emissions as we look to emerge from lockdown, and that the nature and shape of urban transport’s recovery would drive the resurgence in rural regions, where local authorities face intense pressure during the Covid pandemic.
It was discussed that it would be beneficial for the National Bus Strategy to outline measures to speed up bus journeys and make them more reliable, especially outside London, as the country recovers from the pandemic.
Andrew Carter, Centre for Cities chief executive, said, “There needs to be clear articulation of how the National Bus Strategy sits within the government’s other ambitions – net-zero emissions, climate change or levelling up from an economy point of view. I would want to see some commitment, particularly in our big metro areas, to significantly increase passenger numbers. That should be an ambition – if you set yourself that target then it drives a set of decisions and behaviours down the line in terms of better frequency, reliability and information.”
Looking beyond the recovery period of Covid, Graham Vidler, Confederation of Passenger Transport chief executive, said, “We need to see a focus in the National Bus Strategy on measures to speed up bus journeys and make them more reliable. Measures to give the bus greater priority to reduce congestion for bus users have to be at the heart of the Strategy. It will be a missed opportunity if it simply talks about the regulatory framework, for example, without talking about the outcomes that we are trying to collectively achieve and without setting clear targets for moving in that direction.”