Make using the bus as easy as ordering pizza – design bus services for young people

17 May 2019

Bus operators can best secure their future by serving young passengers better, says independent watchdog Transport Focus.

Overall satisfaction for young bus passengers (16 to 18-year olds) has risen to 80 per cent (from 77 per cent in 2017), however they remain the least satisfied group of passengers.

Today, Transport Focus has published Making bus a better choice for young people – a good practice guide to help bus operators and local authorities make bus a better choice for young people.

Earlier this year, bus operators and local authorities participated in a series of workshops convened by Transport Focus to start a nationwide conversation on how to make buses more appealing to young people.

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, said:

“More bus operators and local authorities are pursuing creative initiatives that encourage young people to catch the bus.

“Young people are the biggest users of the bus – but don’t feel services are designed for them.

“Young people want using the bus to be as simple and intuitive as ordering pizza. Bus operators and local authorities must seize the opportunity to cater for their customers of the future.”

Buses minister Nusrat Ghani MP said:

“Buses are vital for communities, helping people go to work, school or see friends and family. New technologies such as contactless payment and Wi-Fi make it easier and more attractive for people to get on a bus.

“Young people take the bus more often than any other age group, so this Transport Focus research is vital in showing how to encourage them to continue to use buses in the future – both councils and bus companies should follow this best practice.

“We’re also funding a new open data platform so companies can develop apps to help passengers find out where their bus is, how long it will take, and how much it will cost, giving them more confidence to take the bus.”

In today’s report, Transport Focus makes clear recommendations for improving services to attract and encourage more young people to keep using the bus. In particular:

  • Smart fares – discounted fares for 16 to 18-year olds that are easy to buy and understand
  • One stop nationwide bus app – one central source for information and ticketing provided by the bus industry that is intuitive, easy-to-use and accessed via an app that will earn its place on a young person’s phone
  • Better on board – Wi-Fi and USB charge points at every seat.


Notes to editors

Making bus a better choice for young people (web link goes live 00.01): collates best practice from a series of five workshops held across England in February and March 2019 to discuss in-depth research into the experiences and needs of young bus passengers published by Transport Focus in February 2018.

Case studies summary (for details, see full report)

West Yorkshire – half-price fare in school uniform
School pupils wearing school uniform in West Yorkshire no longer have to show a bus pass to qualify for half-fare travel.

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance agreed that half-fare entitlement would apply to all pupils boarding the bus in school uniform without having to show a pass.

Liverpool City Region – a simple flat fare for under 19s
5 to 18-year-old passengers can ask the bus driver for a ‘MyTicket’, at a cost of £2.20, which provides unlimited travel for the day across the Liverpool City Region.

Merseytravel, working in partnership with local bus operators, recognised that the cost of travel for young people was a huge issue, whether that be for trips to school, work or leisure. The ticket has helped to increase use of the bus by young in the region by 168 per cent.

West Midlands – half-price travel for apprentices and trainees
16 to 18-year-old apprentices and trainees, who previously had to pay full adult fares on buses, can now get a 50 per cent discount (that has led to a 12 per cent increase in journeys by young people on National Express West Midlands as a result).

The West Midlands Bus Alliance extended under-18 half-price travel to apprentices and trainees, an extra 31,000 young people now get the discount.


For further information please contact:
Kieran Watkins, tel: 0300 123 0836 or email:

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