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Dismantling the barrier posed by ‘exact fare only’

Delivering improvements for bus passengers is a key objective of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, chaired by my colleague Linda McCord.

Last year the Alliance set a target of achieving 85 per cent passenger satisfaction with bus services as measured by our Bus Passenger Survey. Our research this year found that this has been exceeded, with nearly nine in 10 bus passengers (88 per cent) in the West Midlands region happy with their service.

This overall level of satisfaction is great, as are the results for value for money which we know is a top passenger priority. This reached record levels of 67 per cent satisfied – an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year. What’s more, it was particularly pleasing to find an even bigger – nine per cent – improvement in value for money satisfaction levels amongst young people. Zonal fares and contactless payment have helped and ‘exact fare only’ will, hopefully, soon be a thing of the past.

All of these gains have been achieved through the strong partnership of the West Midlands Bus Alliance that saw low fare zones introduced in various areas across the region.

What this demonstrates is just how far getting the basics right – punctual reliable bus services that offer value – is key to having satisfied passengers. Our insight also shows that time and again it is the driver interaction, their helpfulness and just being friendly that ensures passengers feel they have had a great journey. Staff themselves, driving these buses, must therefore be pleased to see passenger satisfaction increase in areas where they have been working.

All in all these are great results from a valuable partnership that brings together bus operators, local councils, and other organisations to work together to deliver high levels of passenger satisfaction, drive forward investment in bus services and through this help support a stronger economy, improve access to work, services or education and reduce air pollution.

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