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New bus passenger community launches

“I’d need to know how frequently the buses are running, how many people will be allowed on and if there’ll be a cap of passengers – and that everyone will be wearing face masks.” Female, 24, Yorks and Humber

This is just one of the views from a member of Transport Focus’s new Transport User Community as schools reopen and people return to workplaces next week.

Transport Focus’s latest report looks to understand bus passengers’ attitudes to returning to bus travel and the impact of coronavirus. Over the coming months Transport Focus will track the community’s experiences as more people look to return to travel.

The community sees bus as a reliable and reasonably safe way of travelling but there is still anxiety over the ability to maintain social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. These anxieties are higher in those who had yet to make a bus journey than in those currently travelling.

In Transport Focus’s most recent Travel during Covid-19 survey finds that bus use is steadily increasing but demand is still considerably less than before. Overall, just over half of those who used to be regular bus users before lockdown said that they expect to make a journey by bus in the next month or sooner, with 14 per cent not being sure when they would travel again.

David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“After months of being told not to travel people will understandably be anxious about venturing out. Our research shows while many are satisfied some people still have concerns about safety which might still put them off getting on board the bus.

“As the economy reopens and people start thinking about travelling to work again and pupils consider how they will get to school, it is important that bus operators are clear on what passengers can expect from their operator in terms of social distancing – and what’s expected of them.”

Transport Focus is calling for:

  • operators and local authorities to reassure passengers returning to work or school this September on what can they expect of operators and what is expected of them
  • clear information so that passengers can have confidence in how their service is running or if buses are affected by delays
  • clear and consistent advice about travel: passengers need to know what rules exist, what they have to do, and where to find information.

The experiences our Transport User Community shared include:

“I use the bus frequently as I don’t own a car; I’d like the prices to be cheaper though; during COVID-19 the bus fares are really expensive for me.” Male, 22, South East

“The driver was nice, he made a joke about it being a ghost bus which I guess put me at ease. Everyone was calm but not making much eye contact.” Female, 29, North West

“I’d need to see higher standards of cleanliness on buses before going back to them. I also think we’ll see radical changes to timetables with fewer buses on routes due to the financial impact of COVID.” Female, 63, Scotland

Transport User Community – return to bus travel report 

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