Transport User Voice – August 2022 – Chief executive’s editorial

21 July 2022

A perfect storm

Transport users and the industries that operate the roads and transport they rely on are being battered by all the forces that are affecting societies around the world. Inflation is sending the cost of providing everything up. Labour is in short supply. Covid remains with us. Climate change has not gone away.

Strikes are not the only symptom of this but they do undermine passenger confidence. Extreme heat has disrupted some services. Bus services are proving hard to run in places with driver shortages still plaguing many operations along with local industrial action by bus company staff. All of this has a severe impact on passengers.

And there are many lessons to learn. I’ve since been appointed to a new Network Rail resilience taskforce to help with how instances like the heatwave are dealt with – find out more here.

It’s hard not to conclude that once the relatively short-term issues have faded that all transport, but particularly public transport, will look and feel different. Maybe services which will cost more to operate and, therefore, use? This means the need to get more people using public transport and efforts to get better value for money to operate will be key.

All this is happening at the same time as climate change affects us all. Really tough choices and decisions for governments in all this. Even if local public transport were to be made relatively free I suspect that, in many areas, most people would still rely on the car as there just aren’t feasible alternatives right now.

The Government’s transport decarbonisation plan sets out an ambitious plan that needs continued pushing. On behalf of transport consumers, we want to see governments continue the thrust towards Net Zero by sticking to the 2030 end of fossil fuel cars target. Keep rolling out the electric vehicle charging. Keep making bus and rail more attractive choices which, in time, the Rail Reform and bus strategies will hopefully do.

In the meantime, we will continue to measure the user experience to help improve it. Our new Your Bus Journey survey will soon be ready to roll out. We continue to work with the Department for Transport, Rail Delivery Group and the Great British Railways Transition Team on a new rail passenger survey. Our regular omnibus survey keeps a track on rail passenger satisfaction at the moment.

In the meantime, stay safe out there.


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