Radical rethink of bus legislation needed for 21st century

Posted By : Alex Lynn
Radical rethink of bus legislation needed for 21st century

On Tuesday 30th October, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) appeared before the Transport Select Committee to give evidence into the health of the bus market. Nick Richardson FCILT, Technical Principal, Mott MacDonald and Chairman, Bus & Coach Policy Group, CILT, represented the Institute during the examination of the reasons for the decline in bus use in England outside London. 

Over the course of the session, Nick declared that:

  • Attention to what people want from bus services must take precedence over different forms of governance
  • Good bus services are essential for the economy, the environment and a less congested and polluted Britain
  • Traffic congestion severely undermines bus services
  • Changes must be made in the way that bus services are viewed, operated and funded
  • In particular, highway and public transport networks must be managed to move people and goods as efficiently as possible

Richardson said: “There is a pressing need to review how to deliver the bus services that consumers require in the 21st Century. Bus operators are doing their best under very difficult circumstances. I am sure they would argue that they are over regulated and can’t get on with the business of delivering a good service through no fault of their own.”

CILT believes that the successful bus services in many towns and cities in the UK have been achieved by collaborative working. Partnership can achieve results within the existing legislative and regulatory framework, but more needs to be done to refocus legislation changes to assist users rather than expand the range of local governance options.

Richardson added: “We should certainly look at examples of best practice that have been achieved through partnerships. Working with the consumers and big employers, as well as education establishments, especially as the student population continues to grow. There is huge potential in younger people, many of whom don’t aspire to drive a car – that is a future generation providing an awful lot of opportunities if they can be exploited.”

He continued: “A holistic view is required to manage our highway networks and reduce the impact of traffic congestion, not only for buses but for all road users. This problem has not been helped by reduced local authority budgets and consequent service withdrawals, especially in rural and suburban areas.”

Richardson concluded: “The only way we can grow the bus market is not by competing for the people who use bus services at the moment, it is about extending that market and targeting and attracting those people who are car users.”

Buses accounted for five percent of all journeys in the UK in 2016, the highest percentage for any form of public transport, but annual journeys per person in cities outside the capital have fallen by 40% over the last 25 years.

CILT was invited to give evidence after its Public Policy Committee and specialist Bus & Coach and Accessibility & Inclusion forums submitted a written response to the Health of the Bus Market inquiry.

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