Cleanliness and safety key to getting passengers back onto buses
Occupancy data and incentives such as discounted fares are options bus operators could utilise in order to entice passengers back onto buses according to Transport Focus.
Clean, reliable services with clear information on safety measures are needed to encourage more people back on board buses, a survey of more than 7000 bus passengers suggests.
Transport Focus, an independent watchdog for transport users, asked over 7500 current, lapsed, and non-users about bus services in England, outside of London. The survey looked at experiences of taking buses during Covid-19 restrictions and what would encourage people to use the bus more.
Safety was quite clearly the biggest factor, with 97 per cent of passengers who said they felt very safe also saying they felt satisfied with their journey. This dropped to just 17 per cent for those who felt very unsafe.
Almost half of lapsed passengers and non-users said they are anxious about taking the bus again.
Passengers who have been using the bus less, or stopped altogether, want to see clean and well-maintained buses, social distancing measures and the enforcement of face coverings (except for those who are exempt) to encourage them back.
“As restrictions look to be eased in late July it’s important that people see taking the bus as a welcome option,” said Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus.
“For bus use to pick up to pre-pandemic levels operators and transport authorities must listen to, and act on, what passengers tell them they want from their services. And they need to make sure they are doing all they can to help make sure returning passengers feel safe.”
To help get passengers back on buses, Transport Focus recommends bus operators promote and communicate Covid safety measures such as maintaining increased cleaning, and let passengers know how busy buses are expected to be. In addition, the watchdog also suggests operators offer special fares and discounts to attract people to travel as life begins to return to normal in the UK.