Transport User Voice – June 2023 – Chief executive’s editorial

31 May 2023

Step forwards…step backwards

Good news for bus passengers in England as the Government has confirmed a two-year funding agreement. While some don’t think the amounts involved are enough to stave off cuts, the funding brings welcome certainty and will provide stability in some places. The extension of the £2 fare initiative is also helping passengers in the short term. More bus journeys being made and boosted value for money scores from passengers must be good!

Rail strikes and other industrial action are sapping passenger confidence and loyalty – as well as impacting revenue. But it seems people are increasingly working around what has seemingly become a fact of life. The sooner these disputes are settled the better.

TransPennine Express is now under new government management. In time new faces, energy and ideas may help improve services. However, the underlying issues, in particular industrial relations remain. Passengers should not expect any quick turnaround.

The Government decision not to proceed with any new smart motorway schemes will have been very welcome to some. The lack of a hard shoulder simply does not feel right for many road users. While our insight shows many drivers do not think about the issue until prompted it still causes unease.

The decision throws the spotlight on National Highways to complete the roll out and maintenance of safety equipment on existing smart motorways and to ensure they spot and reach stranded motorists as quickly as possible. This and education campaigns about what to do if you do breakdown, may go some way to bolstering driver confidence.

Network Rail’s business plan for 2024 to 2029 has also been published. A huge investment of some £40 billion in the railways but a warning that performance might deteriorate as there simply isn’t enough money to maintain the whole network to support current reliability. While this may be realistic it seems disappointing given the amount of money involved.

Also, National Highways have published its Strategic Road Network initial plans – spending from 2025 to 2030. Again, huge sums of money involved, and we will continue to help both National Highways and Network Rail focus their spending on what matters to transport users.

Finally we’re looking forward to visiting Bristol and the West of England for our next Board meeting, so please join us online on the 19 July. To find out more please contact

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