Latest bus punctuality guidance should reflect passengers’ views

02 June 2014

Proposed guidance1 on bus punctuality should be amended to reflect passengers’ needs, says Passenger Focus.

In its response2 to proposed punctuality guidance, the passenger watchdog is urging the Senior Traffic Commissioner to maintain the current five minute lateness threshold.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: “We are perplexed that the Commissioner seems to have had a change of heart on the standard limits of tolerance on punctuality. It should be no more than five minutes to reflect what is acceptable to passengers, rather than the seven minutes currently proposed.

“Our research shows us that punctuality matters to passengers when they travel by bus.  Poor punctuality can be a key reason for dissatisfaction with their journey.  

“Passengers are generally pragmatic about a certain level of lateness, being understanding and sympathetic to good reasons. But there are limits. Our specially-commissioned research3 tested passengers’ views on the threshold to assist with the setting of these standards. It demonstrates that the existing five minute threshold is understood and accepted by passengers. But satisfaction drops significantly after five minutes and even more so after 10. 

“We are therefore disappointed and mystified that the Senior Traffic Commissioner has suddenly increased the limit to seven minutes in her latest draft guidance without any explanation or evidence.  In our response, we have urged her to reconsider her decision.  It operators are unable to run more buses on time, they should amend their timetables to make them more realistic.”

Passenger Focus welcomes other aspects of the draft guidance, including the statements that operators should

  • provide more information on punctuality in the public domain
  • publish their targets and likely time periods for improvements.


Notes to editors
1. The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s consultation:

2. Our response:

3. Bus punctuality and timetabling – summary report:


Passenger Focus
Passenger Focus is the independent consumer organisation representing the interests of rail users nationally and bus, coach and tram users across England outside London. We work to make a difference for rail, bus, coach and tram passengers. We’ll do this by:

  • providing authoritative advice for industry based on sound research
  • securing improvements to services – both big and small-scale
  • helping passengers with advice and information
  • campaigning for change
  • acting on rail passenger complaints.


Bus passenger work
Our response to the Senior Traffic Commissioner is based on recently passenger research specially-commissioned to coincide with the development of this guidance. We have also been working with operators and local authorities around England and have built up an understanding of when, where and why buses are delayed and how best to tackle the causes of those delays. 

For further information please contact:
Hazel Phillips
Head of Communications
Tel: 0300 123 0860/07918 626 125
or e-mail:

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