On the 15 March 2021 the government published ‘Bus Back Better’, the long-term national bus strategy for England outside London.
This has come off the back of the following steps taken previously by the government.
- September 2019 – Government committed to publishing a National Bus Strategy.
- February 2020 – The Prime Minister announced the government’s commitment to buses and active travel through transformational funding (a combined £5 billion for buses, cycling and walking) meaning simpler fares, thousands of new buses, improved routes and higher frequencies.
Additionally, the DfT is awarding English local authorities funding for 17 rural and suburban communities, which will see an additional investment of £20 million from the rural mobility fund, being used to trial demand-driven services, which are much needed in rural areas.
The optimistic strategy also sets out a roadmap to a zero-emission bus fleet, including a commitment to consult on ending the sale of new diesel buses, bringing buses in line with ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Improving equality of opportunity on buses, particularly for older and disabled people is also of high importance in the strategy.
Seeing as buses are the UK’s most-used form of public transport, this strategy is needed. Even before coronavirus (COVID-19), there were challenges. COVID-19 has helped the strategy by improving cooperation between private bus operators & local authorities but, better collaboration is only one problem, leaving other larger issues very much neglected.
Improving bus services and making them more attractive to potential/current passengers is, without doubt, the biggest challenge of all.
Efficiency, cost, safety and reliability require both operators and local authorities to have a greater understanding of two main things. First, how they can improve the current service by removing the problems faced and second, what passengers want/require. If these things can be solved, then passengers’ perceptions will change and trust in Public Transport will once more be restored.
The only way to know where these problems are is by obtaining accurate and relevant information in real-time. At uTrack, having dealt with real-time Public Transport information for over a decade, we’ve seen first-hand how having the right and accurate information instantly available, has significantly transformed our clients’ businesses.
The national bus strategy is an optimistic step for Public Transport following the devastation left on the industry by COVID-19, however, it is also an opportunity to put right the problems of the past, and despite all the money that is being thrown at the problem, simply having better data to help provide better services will be the real catalyst for change.
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