COVID-19 still keeps free bus passengers away, says Transport Focus survey
In a recent survey, Transport Focus has found that fewer concessionary pass holders have returned to using buses in comparison to fare payers, due to safety concerns following the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than half of concessionary bus pass holders say COVID-19 is still a major concern for them, reveals Transport Focus in a new survey.
Following the relaxation of pandemic related restrictions, Transport Focus has found that fewer pass holders have returned to using buses in comparison to fare payers.
Almost two thirds of pass holders say they are generally making fewer journeys than before the pandemic. However, the remaining 35 per cent say this is because, in terms of COVID-19, they feel the bus is less safe than other types of transport.
Other reasons include services having been reduced, buses not running on time and buses being cancelled at the last minute.
“Using buses less because I am walking to avoid close contact with people,” said a female aged 61-64, who uses an older person’s pass holder and currently uses buses once or twice a week.
“The pandemic has changed my travel patterns – some things I used to do in central London, I now do locally, such as giving blood or going to the optician. I have retired and therefore no longer make any trips which are directly work-related. I am under less time pressure and sometimes catch buses on a whim to visit a different area or go for a walk,” said a male aged 65-70, who uses an older person’s pass holder and currently uses the bus three or four days a week
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, said: “It’s important that concessionary bus pass holders’ needs are met by the bus industry. There is huge potential in not only bringing these passengers back on board but also getting non-users to give the bus a go. While the pandemic has changed the way many people travel for good, by improving basics like reliability and frequency, this will go a long way to getting more people on buses.”
In order to better meet the needs of these users and non-users, Transport Focus suggests:
- Using funding, where available, to enhance the network, introduce measures to prioritise buses on roads and improve frequency and reliability
- Looking at whether there are opportunities to allow users to travel on concessionary passes in the morning or charge a reduced fare
- Working with passengers and representatives to have targeted communication to build confidence about things like the busyness of the bus, wheelchair access and travelling with a carer
- Considering if there’s anything operators can do to reassure passengers more about the efforts being made to make bus travel safe.
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