The voice of the bus passenger – making a real difference 

20 August 2019

Every year Transport Focus carries out a Bus Passenger Survey to compare and benchmark what users think about their bus service. This year, the survey engaged with almost 50,000 passengers in England and Scotland on a wide range of issues to uncover more about their experience at the bus stop, waiting for the bus, on the bus, the outside of the bus and the bus driver as well as their overall satisfaction with that bus journey and their rating of value for money.

Armed with the results of the Autumn 2018 Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) Transport Focus staff have been on the road over the past few months meeting representatives from more than 90 bus operators and local authorities. So, what are the key things gained from this effort? Here are just some of the findings:  

  • As survey results highlight, the ongoing impact of congestion and roadworks. Slower journeys are becoming the norm for passengers in many areas. There is a sense that ‘the authorities’ are slow off the mark with initiatives to help bus companies run reliable and punctual services – particularly when it comes to combating the effects of congestion. 
  • Value for money results are struggling in some areasSome operators have cut fares and  increased passenger numbersThere is a need to evaluate whether the absolute cost of a day or week ticket is just too much for some in difficult economic times? 
  • Bus operators are engaged, focused professionals who genuinely want to serve passengers as well as possible. Tight budgets setting key priorities essential, which in turn means the survey results help operators target funds into areas and activities that really matter to passengers.

In Merseyside, the TravelSafe Partnership has used BPS findings to help prioritise their work to tackle anti-social behaviour and are seeing real benefits. The most recent results saw an increase in satisfaction for personal safety at the bus stop and fewer passengers saying they were worried about things like rowdy behaviour on board, or feet on the seats. 

Local authorities also say the survey is useful. Simon Day, Contracts and Services Manager, Integrated Passenger Transport at Durham County Council says: 

“What we at Durham most value is the way the Bus Passenger Survey results provide an independent and statistically sound account of bus passengers’ priorities and concerns, that either reinforces or challenges the understanding we have acquired through our ordinary work. 

These are just a couple of examples. The Bus Passenger Survey has become the recognised measure of passenger satisfaction for bus operators. Across the country these results are used to pinpoint and drive improvements for passengers including new fare deals and enhanced customer service training for drivers.  

Clearly, this all goes to show the power of the passenger voice! 


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