As the network of transport authorities serving the largest city regions in England, we worked together to keep the wheels of public transport turning during the lockdown so that key workers could get to where they needed to be.
In this paper we set out how, with the right policy framework from Government, we can meet the challenge of ramping up public transport and prioritising cycling and walking to support a green and just recovery.
(Updated version June 2021)
This report, produced by transport consultancy Steer for the Urban Transport Group, warns that the future of local public transport services is at serious risk without continued COVID-19 financial support from Government.
It highlights how Government support allowed public transport to continue during the national lockdown (enabling key workers to travel to and from work) and to provide a more comprehensive service at lower socially distanced vehicle capacity following the end of the lockdown.
But the report paints a stark picture for both bus and light rail systems should this support be withdrawn prematurely.
This research - conducted by transport consultancy SYSTRA on behalf of the Urban Transport Group - uncovers valuable insights into how passengers spend their time while travelling by bus, and sets out the implications for future bus design and promotion.
The research was based on surveys of over 1,100 people on two different bus routes in Leeds and Nottingham. The two routes both provide a high frequency service and operate with double decker buses with leather seats, WiFi and USB ports - some of the best on-board facilities available. However, the profile of passengers between the two routes was somewhat different, with passengers in Leeds tending to be older, working or retired, whilst a higher proportion of respondents in Nottingham were students, due to the bus route travelling along the university corridor.
This report highlights how investing in bus services is key to achieving a wide range of policy objectives across Government.
The report also finds that the way in which bus services are funded is mired in complexity, with no oversight within Whitehall of how the various funding streams from different Government departments impact on bus services overall.
It also shows that all the main forms of funding for bus services are under severe pressure – in particular those that come indirectly from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government which support bus services that bus companies will not provide on a commercial basis. The report calls for a new ‘Connectivity Fund’ – which would bring together existing bus funding together with funding from other Government Departments into a significantly enhanced and ring-fenced pot for local government to support bus services.
This report explores a range of factors relevant to bus patronage decline, under the themes of social and economic change; alternatives to the bus; and public attitudes to bus travel.
It finds that changing travel habits as a result of different lifestyles and working patterns, wider demographic and economic shifts, the rise of on-demand services, exemplified by runaway growth in Private Hire Vehicles, are amongst the many background factors affecting patronage.
The report also looks at areas where bus use is high or is growing and seeks to draw some initial conclusions about common denominators.
This report examines ‘transit oriented development’ - the principle of putting public transport front and centre in new residential and commercial developments, with the aim of maximising access by public transport, encouraging walking and cycling, and minimising the need to own and use private cars.
The report suggests that transit oriented development has the potential to meet housing need without undermining the green belt or creating more traffic congestion and sprawl. It also examines other areas where it can deliver wide-ranging benefits, such as to local economies; air quality and carbon emissions; social inclusion, employment and skills; health; and public transport patronage.
The place to be sets out a five point plan on how to realise more building developments which are based around sustainable, public transport and active travel.
This report examines the key role that transport interventions can play in supporting post-industrial towns.
It features case studies from the UK and the wider world of how different types of interventions - from transport’s role as an ‘anchor institution’ for local economies and as an employer, through to how transport interchanges can act as ‘gateways’ and sources of civic pride and renewal - can achieve results.
A key finding of the report is that isolated capital interventions in transport infrastructure are insufficient in themselves. Instead, more co-ordinated programmes of transport capital and revenue investment and support are needed if towns are to truly thrive.
The latest edition of Policy futures for urban transport emphasises how a new deal on funding and powers is essential to keep the UK's cities moving forward.
The report sets out the 10 key policy changes that are needed to make cities healthier, fairer and more prosperous.
These include further devolution of rail services; greater funding for buses; reform of taxi and Private Hire Vehicle legislation; an ambitious strategy to encourage more cycling and walking; a long term investment plan for urban rail services; and a visionary national policy framework on air quality.
Our report, Number crunch: Transport trends in the city regions, identifies some of the most defining patterns of the past decade (and projected future trends) that are changing the face of the UK’s city regions, and the way that people travel within them.
Ageing urban populations, rapid bus passenger decline and huge growth in private hire vehicles are just some of the dramatic shifts taking place in UK cities.
The report draws on data from our unique, free and interactive online tool ‘Data Hub’, which allows users to generate bespoke analysis, graphics and charts of transport, economic and population data.
Policy futures for urban transport sets out how, with more focused governance in place, the city regions are delivering major investment programmes including on public transport, highways and active travel, and smart ticketing. The report says that - with the right national policy framework - further and faster progress can be made, including:
- ensuring that the benefits of transformative technological change are maximised including new ways of paying for access to transport, connected and autonomous vehicles and data;
- that barriers between different sectors are broken down so that the benefits that transport can bring to achieving wider policy goals - in areas like health, employment and education - are fully realised.
‘The Scandinavian Way to Better Public Transport’ shows how transport authorities in three Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) are using devolved powers to transform public transport for the better - and sets out the lessons that the UK could learn.
‘Total Transport’ schemes pool resources and vehicle fleets from across the public sector which are currently used to provide separate mainstream, social services, education and healthcare transport provision. Through pooling and coordination a better overall service can be provided at less cost to the taxpayer. However, it is proving challenging to get NHS non emergency patient transport services to participate in such schemes despite the major savings that could accrue from doing so. This briefing explains the scale of the potential opportunity from Total Transport schemes which include the NHS.
This report sets out our vision for how future UK urban transport policy could unfold in a way that enables the nation’s urban areas to deliver smart and sustainable growth that has far-reaching benefits. It looks at the great strides our city regions have already made and proposes fifteen ways in which national government and transport authorities can work together to create the transport networks urban areas need in order to fully realise their potential.
The Urban Transport Group has today launched the most sophisticated tool currently available for modelling bus use in city regions.
Responding to the CPT’s document on bus recovery partnerships which was published today, Urban Transport Group Director, Jonathan Bray said:
- Paper suggests “rapid and deep cut” in bus services if COVID-19 financial backing were to be withdrawn prematurely
Transport authorities can play their part in shaping a positive legacy of COVID-19 for the UK’s city regions, provided they are given both the funding and powers they need to respond to the challenges that lie ahead.
The Urban Transport Group, the UK’s network of city region transport authorities, has today responded to the Government’s package of financial support for urban public transport as it works to keep people moving through the COVID-19 crisis.
New research has uncovered valuable insights into how passengers spend their time while travelling by bus, and sets out the implications for future bus design and promotion.
- Research helps predict “good bus territory” and highlights 25 local areas which out-perform their predicted bus use and why
The Urban Transport Group has today responded to a speech made by the Chancellor in which he described buses as the “backbone of our public transport in most of the country.”