Without radical changes to bus policy and more funding for services, it is “highly likely” that the decline in bus use will continue, a new study has warned. The Urban Transport Group (UTG) found that even areas outperforming their “intrinsic bus potential” have been hindered by lack of funding from central Government.
In its new report, published on Wednesday, UTG analysed the “intrinsic bus potential” (IBP) of a local authority area.
The study explores the factors behind a “good bus territory” and the underlying conditions that can help predict levels of bus use in local areas.
It listed six conditions that encourage a high IBP: proportion of households living in rental accommodation; the level of deprivation; the proportion of students; proportion of working population defined as lower middle class; proportion of working population travelling between 2km and 20km to work; rush hour travel times – the longer the journey times, the higher the bus use.
UTG’s study identified 25 local authority areas that out-perform their IBP. Reasons for this include a pre-existing culture of bus use; high levels of bus provision; bus regulation; and local factors such as relatively poor rail connections.
Urban areas have the highest potential for increased bus use and common themes can be found in areas that outperform their potential, which could be applied elsewhere, the report found.
Also, four of the six background factors are socio-economic rather than related to transport, which are largely beyond the control of transport authorities and bus operators.
Stephen Edwards, chair of the Urban Transport Group and executive director of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said: “These findings also demonstrate that without reformed and increased funding for services, it is highly likely that bus use will continue to fall and it will be difficult for areas to achieve - still less to exceed - their potential for bus use.”
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