Transport User Voice – December 2022 – Chair’s editorial

29 November 2022

Reliability remains key

In my first four months as chair of Transport Focus I’ve been listening to the day-to-day experience and future hopes of transport users. The message is clear: what drivers and bus and rail passengers want above all else is reliable journeys. The results of our soon to be published work on rail passenger priorities will again reinforce this.

A train or bus trip should take as long as promised by the timetable, including simple and efficient connections. Drivers do not want their road journey to be disrupted by excessive numbers of weekend and evening road closures nor seemingly endless stretches of speed restrictions due to road works.

So how is the transport sector currently performing? The headlines are:

Bus punctuality and cancellations vary from area to area, with pockets of great and some really poor performance. Our Bus User Survey shows that seven out of 10 passengers are satisfied with reliability/punctuality. However, this figure is declining.

We know from our Strategic Roads User Survey that around seven out of 10 are satisfied with the Strategic Road Network – but less than half are satisfied with the way roadworks are managed.

Recent news on rail has been full of rail reliability issues and official rail reliability measures reflect this. It is therefore no surprise that our own most recent Rail User Survey showed that satisfaction with reliability and punctuality has dipped to 76 per cent (from 83 per cent). It’s also worth noting that trains ‘removed from the timetable’ before 10pm on the day before are not picked up in the official reliability data. We are pressing for this information to be made public.

So, it is a mixed picture. Road users seem relatively satisfied but rail and bus traveller confidence is showing a worrying downward trend. We know much work is being done to improve matters and we are currently working with stakeholders on both rail reform and bus strategic partnerships. However, delivering noticeable improvements could never have been more urgent if these trends are to be reversed and faith in public transport restored.

Tough spending choices loom. There are many competing pressures, both within transport and beyond. My aim is to ensure that Transport Focus’ world-class insight will help decisionmakers focus spending on investments that will make the most difference for users.

Transport Focus is currently reviewing how we can continue to deliver the very best support to all our stakeholders; championing the needs of passengers today and ensuring their requirements are central to planning for tomorrow.

Being the chair of Transport Focus is a great privilege and responsibility. We all rely on transport networks to keep us (and freight) moving. I am very much looking forward to working with the Transport Focus team, my fellow Board members and all our stakeholders as we collectively work to ensure our road, rail and bus networks are truly outstanding, whichever way people choose to travel.

I look forward to talking to and meeting as many of you as possible in the next few months. And in the meantime, we’re always keen to hear from you – drop us a line at or tweet us @transportfocus.


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