Transport User Voice – January 2020 – Buses on strategic roads

20 December 2019

What do passengers and drivers think? 

“They could do something about the potholes. When I first started using the A27 I used to do my make-up on the bus; I’ve given up on that.” –  Brighton 28/29 bus passenger 

“Parking is just terrible so it’s sometimes easier just to jump on the bus – and you miss the traffic sometimes as well, which is good.” – Bristol M3 passenger 

Passengers and drivers of buses that go on motorways and major ‘A’ roads shared their thoughts with the independent watchdog.  

Transport Focus spoke to bus passengers and local bus companies in Bristol and Brighton to understand what they think about bus services, existing bus priority measures and what future improvements would help. 

The research found the M32 and A27 have a positive impact on bus journeys and these stretches of roads can be the best part of bus routes. Passengers in Bristol and Brighton told us that congestion on or approaching Highways England’s roads was their greatest concern when using these services. 

Chief executive Anthony Smith said: 

“Passengers and bus companies tell us Highways England’s network is often the fastest, smoothest part of their bus journey but congestion has considerable impact on the day-to-day lives of those who use buses. 

“Congestion is clearly being felt by bus passengers. This research should help Highways England understand these concerns and better meet the needs of these customers. 

“Transport Focus looks forward to seeing the improvements for bus passengers and operators as part of Highways England’s proposed investment plans.” 

Transport Focus is calling for Highways England to: 

  • implement a range of improvements which help bus companies run punctual, reliable services which passengers can trust
  • develop a minimum standard for bus stops on its roads and upgrade those not meeting that standard as quickly as possible
  • look to minimise the impact on timetables during disruption, whether caused by planned roadworks, an event or an accident
  • partnering with bus companies and local authorities to pilot ‘try the bus’ initiatives, so that some current car users choose bus for some or all of their trips in future. 

Transport Focus hopes this research will help Highways England strengthen its relationships with bus companies running services on motorways and major ‘A’ roads, with councils managing adjacent highway networks, and with sub-national transport bodies, to deliver improvements for passengers. 

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