Bus

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The bus is the UK's main form of public transport. Find out more about how the industry works, the case for investing in bus and what we are doing to make bus services better

Resources

Submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2021

September, 2021
This is our submission to HM Treasury's Comprehensive Spending Review 2021. In our submission, we warn Government that wider objectives for carbon reduction and levelling up (as well as the specific objectives of the national active travel and bus strategies) cannot be met without increased spending on local transport. Indeed, without additional funding bus patronage (and bus network size) are likely to remain at levels well below what they were pre-pandemic (when patronage and network size were already at an all-time low). To fully realise the benefits of enhanced, devolved and longer term funding for local transport we need city region transport authorities which are fully empowered to take decisions across the modes in a way which reflects local circumstances and aspirations.
Consulting body: 
HM Treasury

Back the Bus to Level Up

September, 2021

This report makes the case for bus revenue funding and reform of how it is provided. 

It aims to arrive at a realistic assessment of the revenue funding that will be needed to support the ambitious transformation in bus services envisaged by the National Bus Strategy. It also looks at how the way in which funding is provided could be reformed in order to offer better value for public money and enable it to be targeted in the most effective way locally.

The report:

  • Reviews the overall case for revenue support for bus.
  • Uses our Metropolitan Bus Model to test different revenue funding scenarios for their impact on service levels, fares and patronage.
  • Makes the case for reform of the way in which revenue support for buses is provided.

Building back better on urban transport

June, 2021

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)

Bus Policy

November, 2020
This updated briefing looks at why buses matter and how bus policy works. It explains the significant challenges facing the sector (including the COVID-19 pandemic) and how city regions are backing the bus. It also sets out how the 2017 Bus Services Act could help make bus services better.
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Submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2020

September, 2020
This is our submission to HM Treasury's Comprehensive Spending Review 2020. In our submission, we call upon the Government to move on from its current 'patch and mend’ approach to closing the COVID-19 funding gap for public transport towards longer-term, secure arrangements. We argue that this should form the basis for wider reforms of the funding and powers of city region transport authorities. In practice, this would mean providing long-term funding packages for local transport similar to those already in place for national rail and roads, as well as upgrading the powers of city region transport authorities so they are more in line with those in London. This would ensure that transport authorities are fully empowered and funded to meet the challenge of a green and just recovery from COVID-19.
Consulting body: 
HM Treasury

The Covid-19 Funding Gap: The Case for Continuing Support for Urban Public Transport

September, 2020

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.

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Multi-Operator ticket premia EXTERNAL 2016

January, 2017
This document provides comparative analysis of bus operator fares and multi-operator ticket fareas across Urban Transport Group member areas and a range of comparators. This information was collected in October 2016 and was correct at the time of research. Bus fares change regularly and it is likely that some of the fares are out of date, however, this is intended as a snap shot analysis and should be treated as such.
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Bus fare analysis 2016

January, 2017
This briefing provides a summary of bus fares from the main operators across Urban Transport Group member areas. Bus fare information was collected in October 2016 and was correct at the time of research. Bus fares are updated regularly so it is likely that some of the fares have already changes, however, this document is a snap shot analysis and should be treated as such.
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How people respond to the experience of bus travel and the implications for the future of bus services

May, 2019

This literature review - carried out by SYSTRA for the Urban Transport Group - aims to appraise the existing evidence base on the range of factors that influence how people respond to the experience of bus travel, with a focus on the social-emotional experience of bus travel and on the experiences of different socio-demographic groups.

The review does not aim to act as a ‘to-do’ list to complete in order to improve bus travel experiences. Any learnings taken should acknowledge that the bus services assessed in the literature are often hyper-local and therefore are experienced in a very individual market.

The cross-sector benefits of backing the bus

March, 2019

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.

What's driving bus patronage change? An analysis of the evidence base

January, 2019

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.

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The place to be: How transit oriented development can support good growth in the city regions

January, 2019

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.

About towns: How transport can help towns thrive

November, 2018

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. 

Policy futures for urban transport

September, 2018

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.

Number crunch: Transport trends in the city regions

April, 2018

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

September, 2017

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

August, 2017

‘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.

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Total Transport: a better approach to commissioning non-emergency patient transport?

March, 2017

‘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.

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