Critical funding gap endangers bus services across UK, says new survey

Posted: 19 May 2023 | | No comments yet

With the Bus Recovery Grant coming to an end, CPT’s new survey highlights the concerns among bus passengers regarding the potential loss of services and its impact on their ability to commute and access job opportunities.

Critical funding gap endangers bus services across UK, says new survey

Credit: Confederation of Passenger Transport

Up to 15% of bus services across the country could be lost if government funding comes to an end from July 2023, according to a new study commissioned by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

The research reveals widespread concern among bus passengers regarding access to jobs, particularly among those without access to a car and individuals on lower incomes, if the Bus Recovery Grant is not replaced when it comes to an end in June 2023. To maintain services at current levels, operators and local authorities would require an annual budget of £260 million.

The study had surveyed a significant number of passengers to gauge their sentiments. It found that nearly 60% of respondents are worried about the potential increase in travel costs and being disconnected from work and leisure opportunities if there are reductions in bus services. 

In addition, the survey results highlighted specific concerns among different groups of passengers. Among low earners, over two-thirds (68%) expressed worry about how they would commute to work if local bus services were cut. Moreover, 71% of those who do not drive regularly shared the same concern. Passengers with disabilities also expressed apprehension, with approximately 64% fearing that a reduction in services would make their regular method of commuting to work more expensive.

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Furthermore, 59% of all bus commuters voiced their concerns about facing a more difficult journey to their workplace if there were a decrease in bus services in their local area. For those without a full UK driving license, 49% were worried about finding an alternative mode of transport if bus frequencies were to decrease.

Graham Vidler, CEO of CPT, said: “With over a million people travelling to work every day by bus, we know how important buses are to levelling up communities by keeping them connected to the jobs market. This new research shows that people are clearly worried about getting to work, as well as having to spend more by travelling by car or being cut off altogether. If the government is really serious about levelling up and getting people back into the workplace, then it needs to back our buses for the long-term.”

As the potential loss of services looms, the survey findings highlight the concerns of passengers who rely on this mode of transport to access job opportunities. It underscores the need for continued government support and long-term investment in buses to ensure the connectivity of communities and facilitate economic growth.