Transport User Voice – August 2022 – Getting free bus pass holders back

21 July 2022

Some have stayed away

Using buses less because I am walking to avoid close contact with people.” Female, 61-64, older person’s pass holder, currently using buses once or twice a week

Transport Focus found fewer free pass holders than farepayers have returned to using the bus since coronavirus restrictions eased. We carried out research using our Transport User Panel to find out why.

Changing travel habits have played a part. Over half say the way they use buses has changed since the start of the pandemic. 38 per cent say that they are using buses less frequently now in comparison to just 13 per cent who say they are using buses more frequently.

Among those who are using buses less frequently, 65 per cent say that they are generally making fewer journeys now than they did before the start of the pandemic. Some say this is because they are having shopping delivered or working from home more. Meanwhile 35 per cent say that they are using buses less frequently because, in terms of coronavirus, they believe that using a bus is less safe than using other modes of transport.

More than half say coronavirus is still a major concern for them. Almost one in five agree that they will never again feel completely comfortable travelling on buses.

Other reasons mentioned for not getting back on buses were around knowledge and reliability of bus services. Many said they were using buses less because services have been reduced, they did not run on time and buses have been cancelled at the last minute.

“The pandemic has changed my travel patterns: some things I used to do in central London I now do locally (such as giving blood or going to the optician). I have retired and therefore no longer make any trips which are directly work-related. I am under less time pressure and sometimes catch buses on a whim to visit a different area or go for a walk.”  Male, 65-70, older person’s pass holder, currently using bus three or four days a week

To better meet the needs of these users and non-users Transport Focus suggests:

  • using funding, where available, to enhance the network, introduce measures to prioritise buses on roads and improve frequency and reliability
  • look at whether there are opportunities to allow users to travel on concessionary passes in the morning or charge a reduced fare
  • work with passengers and representatives to have targeted communication to build confidence about things like the busyness of the bus, wheelchair access and travelling with a carer
  • consider if there’s anything operators can do to reassure passengers more about the efforts being made to make bus travel safe.

Read the report here.


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