What makes a really great bus journey?

22 March 2017

We know that bus passengers need the basics right for reasonable satisfaction levels: the basics being a frequent, punctual, reliable service that offer value for money. Our Bus Passenger Survey, published today, provides some useful pointers to what makes a really great bus journey, using a new approach for identifying the key factors that drive journey satisfaction.

Our analysis helps us answer the question What makes a satisfactory journey? This can be seen in what my colleagues term a ‘square pie’ chart below.

Our analysis also enables us to answer What makes a great journey? 

What is so noticeable when comparing these charts is that the bus driver becomes a significant factor in providing a great journey. It even squeezes out many of the other factors including timeliness. The particular aspects we asked about the driver included the greeting, helpfulness, smoothness and safety of the ride, as well as the time given for passengers to get a seat.

This shows how important the driver is in giving passengers a great – as opposed to a just a satisfactory – journey.

This chimes with last year’s work into trust on bus which showed that people want a relationship with their bus company. The bus driver can be a vital element in building a good relationship with the passenger and – who knows – might help increase bus patronage. They do so much more than drive the bus. They can provide ‘magic moments’ of great customer service. Bus operators need to ensure they put effort into driver recruitment and training. But also they should ensure that technological developments, such as smart ticketing, don’t stop a direct conversation between the driver and the passenger.

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