Boosting bus use: new research outlines ways to attract people onboard

29 June 2023

Independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus is calling for a relentless focus on delivering more frequent, reliable and value for money bus services to help attract new passengers.

As cuts to services and the cost of living bites, Transport Focus has spoken to more than 2000 people to understand the current barriers to bus use and what more could be done to help people give bus a go.

The majority of non-users said they don’t travel by bus because they prefer to travel by car (70 per cent). Other reasons included the bus being less convenient (27 per cent) and journeys taking too long (26 per cent).

The survey found the top factors that would increase bus use were better value fares, more frequent buses and more reliable services.

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

“Our research shows that while many travel habits post-covid are here to stay, there are significant opportunities for bus operators and local authorities to attract passengers onboard.

“It’s clear that the bus industry is at a crossroads. Operators and local authorities face some tough, unenviable choices in a difficult economic environment. To help more people choose bus it’s essential that services turn up on time and offer good value for money.”

Key survey findings​:

  • Who uses buses has changed​ – there is a sizeable group who used to use the bus who have simply not returned at all since Covid and many users are using it less than before.
  • A preference for the car among non-users will continue to be hard to overcome. Perceptions that the bus is inconvenient and takes too long also prohibit people from giving it a go.
  • The capped fare scheme is providing value for money to users​. Half who have used the scheme have been encouraged to use the bus more because of it.
  • A lack of knowledge about services presents an opportunity for the industry – better promotion of services and schemes such as the £2 bus fare scheme could encourage lapsed and non-users.

Transport Focus will use this research to help bus operators and local authorities to help shape future policy and funding initiatives to improve local services and encourage more people to give bus a go.

Like what you read? Please click below to share on social media.