The route ahead: top priorities for bus passengers

17 June 2021

Clean, reliable services with clear information on safety measures are needed to encourage more people back on board buses, survey finds.

Transport Focus asked over 7500 current, lapsed, and non-users about bus services in England, outside of London. The survey looks at experiences of taking buses during Covid-19 restrictions and what would encourage people to use the bus more.

97 per cent of passengers who said they felt very safe were satisfied with their journey, dropping to just 17 per cent for those who felt very unsafe.

Almost half of lapsed passengers and non-users say they are anxious about taking the bus again.

Passengers who have been using the bus less, or stopped altogether, want to see clean and well-maintained buses, social distancing measures and the enforcement of face coverings (except for those who are exempt) to encourage them back.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“As restrictions look to be eased in late July it’s important that people see taking the bus as a welcome option.

“For bus use to pick up to pre-pandemic levels operators and transport authorities must listen to, and act on, what passengers tell them they want from their services. And they need to make sure they are doing all they can to help make sure returning passengers feel safe.”

To help get passengers back on buses, Transport Focus recommends bus operators:

  • promote and communicate Covid safety measures such as maintaining increased cleaning
  • let passengers know how busy buses are expected to be
  • offer special fares and discounts to attract people to travel
  • keep focussed on delivering frequent, reliable and punctual services.


Notes to editors

The route ahead: getting passengers back on buses report.

Transport Focus surveyed 7663 passengers, across England (outside of London) between March and April 2021.

More detail on results in Scotland, Wales and London are available in the research agency report.

For further information please contact: Misha MccGwire, communications officer, email:

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