Passenger Voice October 2015: Anthony Smith’s editorial

30 September 2015

Nationalise! Privatise! Buy! Sell!

While debates swirl again around who controls, owns and awards the contracts for public transport services, passenger needs remain remarkably constant. All our experience as passengers, all our research on passenger satisfaction and priorities for improvement show we want some simple, straightforward things: buses, coaches, trams and trains that arrive on time, are clean and are value for money.

Long-term investment and political commitment underpins the ability of public transport to provide us with good choices. Debates about changes to the way that public transport is run should start with questions: how will this improve things for passengers? How will this boost investment? Decide what you want to achieve and then think how best to structure the delivery.

Debates at the party conferences centred on dealing with the side effects of success of the railways: more passengers seeking more space on trains and track. However, bus debates are more often about how to arrest decline. Moving the debate on to how bus contributes to the pro-prosperity debate, not the anti-austerity agenda, will be crucial.

It would be great one year if we were talking at party conferences and elsewhere about how to deal with the success of buses outside London; how to cope with the tide of passengers.

We have new research coming out soon on bus passengers and trust in the industry and local authorities, non-users and bus passenger priorities for improvement. We hope this will work will help change the tone of the debate.

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