More to be done to improve bus punctuality as landmark survey reveals gulf in passenger satisfaction

13 March 2024

Bus passengers across England have spoken – with 80 per cent of those travelling saying they were satisfied with their last journey in a new survey published by independent watchdog, Transport Focus.

First year results for 2023 from the new Your Bus Journey survey showed passenger satisfaction varying widely, with passengers in East Riding of Yorkshire and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole the most satisfied overall with their journey at 90 per cent. While passengers in West Yorkshire were the least satisfied with 73 per cent.

In its first year, the survey has gathered passenger feedback on more than 35,000 journeys in England. The survey looks at how satisfied passengers are with their most recent journey and a range of other key factors such as their experience on board the bus, at the bus stop, with the bus driver and if they think the journey provided good value for money.

Results show significant variation in scores for waiting times and bus punctuality across the areas surveyed. Even in better scoring areas, congestion in peak travel periods is a challenge for operators and reflected in the scores given by passengers.

Nearly half of passengers surveyed in Transport Focus’s survey (48 per cent) say that the bus was the only real means of transport available to make that journey, so it’s vital that services are on time, reliable and offer good value for money.

Overall, 67 per cent of fare paying passengers say they are satisfied with value for money. Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, the introduction of the £2 single fare cap and other ticket deals, results appear to have held up – with those in rural areas taking longer distance journeys often benefiting the most. Where value for money ratings are lower, this may be attributed to less reliable journeys or tickets and passes used by frequent travellers that have increased in price in the past year.

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

“It is good to see many passengers are satisfied with their journey. 80 per cent overall satisfaction is a good start. However, wide variation in scores show that some passengers are being let down.

“As congestion continues to bite, Government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy.

“We’ll be using the results from this survey as a benchmark for local transport authorities and bus operators to drive improvements and attract more people onto buses.”

Following the significant Government investment to make buses better in the National Bus Strategy and £2 bus fare cap, Transport Focus wants to see the industry deliver on its commitment to make buses more reliable and frequent and better value for money.

Key highlights include:

  • Value for money: the greatest range of scores across the survey are for value for money. Passenger scores range from 87 per cent (East Riding of Yorkshire) down to 55 per cent (Brighton and Hove and West of England and North Somerset)
  • Punctuality: overall, 70 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the punctuality of the bus. Passenger scores range from 86 per cent (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) down to 62 per cent (West Midlands).
  • Waiting times: waiting time scores also show a significant variation across the survey ranging from 82 per cent in Greater Nottingham down to 60 per cent in the Tees Valley and Durham.
  • Satisfaction with the bus driver consistently scores the highest – with 85 per cent satisfied overall. We know from our past research that bus drivers can make the difference between a good and great journey.

As a key metric to monitor and evaluate Bus Service Improvement Plans, Transport Focus will work with transport authorities and bus operators to fully understand the results and focus on plans to improve the passenger experience and attract new passengers onto bus.

Transport Focus will continue to use the survey to make the case for future improvements and identify good practice. This will help transport authorities, bus operators and Government to invest in the things that matter most to current and future bus passengers.

 Notes to editors

DOWNLOAD REPORT: Your Bus Journey survey – STRICTLY EMBARGOED 0.01 AM 13 MARCH 2024

Overall journey satisfaction by area

Rank Area Satisfied Area type
1 East Riding of Yorkshire 90% Rural
2 Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole 90% Urban other
3 Greater Nottingham 87% Urban other
4 Stoke-on-Trent 85% Urban other
5 Nottinghamshire 85% Semi-rural
6 Suffolk 85% Rural
7 Cornwall 85% Rural
8 Thurrock 84% Urban other
9 City of York 84% Urban other
10 Derbyshire 83% Semi-rural
11 Northumberland 83% Rural
12 Portsmouth 83% Urban other
13 Tyne & Wear 83% Urban metropolitan
14 Cheshire East 83% Semi-rural
15 Liverpool City Region 83% Urban metropolitan
16 North East Lincolnshire 83% Urban other
17 Surrey 83% Urban other
18 Leicester City 82% Urban other
19 Brighton and Hove 82% Urban other
20 Cheshire West & Chester 81% Semi-rural
21 Norfolk 81% Rural
22 West Sussex 81% Urban other
23 South Yorkshire 81% Urban metropolitan
24 Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen 80% Urban other
25 Luton 80% Urban other
26 East Sussex 79% Semi-rural
27 Greater Manchester 79% Urban metropolitan
28 Oxfordshire 78% Rural
29 West of England and North Somerset 77% Urban other
30 Warrington 76% Urban other
31 Tees Valley 76% Urban other
32 West Midlands 76% Urban metropolitan
33 Durham 75% Rural
34 West Yorkshire 73% Urban metropolitan

Overall journey satisfaction by operator

Rank Operator name Satisfied Operating group
14 Reading Buses* 86% Non-major group

*Reading Buses took part in the survey across its network and is not part of any one area (although routes will generally pass through Reading Borough). Their results have been included in the operator league table, which is on page 28 of the summary report. We include an excerpt from that here.


About Your Bus Journey:

  • Building on over a decade of running the previous Bus Passenger Survey (2009 to 2019) and working with the industry Your Bus Journey is a new way to capture and report on what bus passengers want from their journeys. The survey provides the first large-scale survey results following Covid.
  • In the new survey researchers approach passengers at bus stops and on board buses, encouraging passengers to take part in the survey and capture feedback on a wide selection of routes.
  • The survey includes the experiences of 35,000 bus passenger journeys across 34 local transport authority areas and one bus operator in England providing robust, comparable and benchmarked results.

Press office contact

Members of the media can contact the Transport Focus press office for further information or to arrange an interview on 0300 123 2170

Email contact:

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