13 February 2020
As regular readers will be aware, I have often mentioned in this column how bus ridership has, with some local exceptions, been in long-term decline. As well as being one of the most environmentally friendly forms of motor transport, buses also play a key role in reducing social exclusion.
Therefore, it is great news to see that government recognises action is required and has announced much needed funding earlier this week.
However, the devil will be in the details. We need to see how much of the £5bn pledge is new money and how it will be split across cycling and bus services. We will also have to wait until later in the year before we see the finalised National Bus Strategy.
To make any strategy a success getting ridership numbers up is not enough on its own. There is a range of issues that need to be addressed from congestion and accessibility, to a consistent regulatory framework. We have, alongside many others, long argued that the evolving patchwork of local-based Clean Air Zones is disruptive and misaligned with the huge national investments in vehicles, systems and infrastructure.
SMMT will be working alongside other trade associations and with government to ensure that Bus and the Coach play an ever-increasing role in passenger transport and crucially in reducing emissions.