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Make using the bus as easy as ordering pizza

Design bus services for young people

23 May 2019

Bus operators can best secure their future by serving young passengers better, says independent watchdog Transport Focus, as it publishes a new report and video.

Overall satisfaction for young bus passengers (16 to 18-year olds) has risen to 80 per cent (from 77 per cent in 2017), however they remain the least satisfied group of passengers. Transport Focus has published Making bus a better choice for young people – a good practice guide to help bus operators and local authorities make bus a better choice for young people.

In its report, Transport Focus makes clear recommendations for improving services to attract and encourage more young people to keep using the bus. In particular:

  • Smart fares – discounted fares for 16 to 18-year olds that are easy to buy and understand
  • One stop nationwide bus app – one central source for information and ticketing provided by the bus industry that is intuitive, easy-to-use and accessed via an app that will earn its place on a young person’s phone
  • Better on board – Wi-Fi and USB charge points at every seat.

The report is published in the same week as transport tech firm Corethree announces its record-breaking milestone of selling more than 100,000,000 mobile tickets. The number of m-tickets processed by the UK’s leading provider shows accelerating appetite for smarter digital ticketing, both in-country and overseas, says Corethree – and m-ticketing is also a mode that appeals to younger people.

Earlier this year, bus operators and local authorities participated in a series of workshops convened by Transport Focus to start a nationwide conversation on how to make buses more appealing to young people.

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, said: “More bus operators and local authorities are pursuing creative initiatives that encourage young people to catch the bus. Young people are the biggest users of the bus – but don’t feel services are designed for them. Young people want using the bus to be as simple and intuitive as ordering pizza. Bus operators and local authorities must seize the opportunity to cater for their customers of the future.”

Buses minister Nusrat Ghani MP said: “Buses are vital for communities, helping people go to work, school or see friends and family. New technologies such as contactless payment and Wi-Fi make it easier and more attractive for people to get on a bus.

“Young people take the bus more often than any other age group, so this Transport Focus research is vital in showing how to encourage them to continue to use buses in the future – both councils and bus companies should follow this best practice.

“We’re also funding a new open data platform so companies can develop apps to help passengers find out where their bus is, how long it will take, and how much it will cost, giving them more confidence to take the bus.”

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