UK bus passenger numbers surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time
UK bus travel achieves a remarkable milestone as passenger numbers surge beyond pre-pandemic levels, signalling a resounding comeback for the nation’s most popular public transportation mode.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has announced that bus passenger numbers have surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time, marking a significant milestone in the recovery of the UK’s public transportation sector. After months of steady growth, 12 October 2023 became the first weekday when more people travelled by bus compared to the equivalent day before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buses, known as the nation’s most popular form of public transport, are currently outperforming other modes of transportation, including rail services, showcasing a robust resurgence in the industry.
Graham Vidler, CEO of CPT, said: “Operators have worked tirelessly to make the bus as attractive as possible for passengers, keeping fares low and investing over £2 billion in cleaner, greener vehicles over the last eight years, making it the sector’s greenest and most modern fleet.”
One of the factors contributing to the resurgence of this mode of transport is the majority of bus journeys outside of London being capped at just £2, making it affordable and convenient. This affordability, coupled with ongoing efforts to introduce environmentally friendly vehicles, has made the sector increasingly appealing to the public.
The UK government recently allocated an additional £930 million to support buses in North England and the Midlands, a move welcomed by CPT. However, the organisation is urging the government to recognise the significance of this mode of public transport across the entire country and commit to long-term, nationwide funding for the sector.
Vidler continued, “Government must seize this opportunity to unlock the full potential of the bus with a longer-term funding settlement. The payback of such investment could be huge, with buses being key drivers of economic growth, levelling up our communities, and reducing our carbon emissions.”
As the public embraces bus travel once again and the sector proves its importance, calls for government support to further enhance this public transportation mode and address transportation needs nationwide have gained momentum. Operators and advocates see this as a golden opportunity for the government to bolster the role of buses in the country’s public transport system.