Transport User Voice May 2024 – Barriers to bus in Wales

01 May 2024

The passenger view

What are the barriers to using the bus in Wales? Passengers and non-bus users have made their views known in new Transport Focus research undertaken in partnership with Transport for Wales (TfW).

We know that buses should be easy to use, and that good, clear information is key in getting people on board. In the research Information and infrastructure barriers to bus use in Wales – the passenger view passenger views were sought across a number of key areas – including bus and travel information and the bus stop environment.

Some of the findings

Some of the current barriers came as no surprise – for instance passengers may be aware of the location of their local bus stop simply from going past it. But they may not know what the timetable is, where they can get to by bus, what route it follows, which side of the road to wait, or how much it will cost. Buses were seen as having advantages and disadvantages compared with other forms of transport, including being viewed as the best public transport for short journeys and connecting towns and villages. But the research also found that passenger experiences and expectations varied by type of location, for example whether rural or urban.

In rural areas there was some sense of gratitude that there was a service running at all and passengers tended to divide between two attitudes – those resigned to the service levels, and those who would like to see improvements and think that rural areas should have as good a bus service as urban areas.

What passengers told us

  • At the journey planning stage: “Changes in the bus times depending on Saturday or Sunday – I’ve also been caught out by it not being a term time day. That really does catch you out if you’re not in touch with people who have children. A lot of the bits of information on the timetable are really small.”
  • Information needs when planning a bus journey: “How long it’s going to possibly take? How many stops there’s going to be? Where it’s going.”
  • Barriers on the way to the bus stop: “When I think about where I have to walk to get to the stop on my own in the evening, that has an impact.”
  • Barriers to bus use at the stop, station or interchange: “Standing around at a bus stop that is a wind tunnel and is dirty and uncomfortable, without any proper seating is not exactly an incentive.”
  • The overall journey: “How long it’s going to possibly take? How many stops there’s going to be? Where it’s going to end. Just so if it’s convenient, which stop to get off towards the end? I think that information is probably important to me.”
  • Information needs at the stop: “Real-time information – so comparing with Leeds you can see how full the bus is, how many seats are available, the actual time it’s turning up.”


  • As we have seen in previous research, frequent, reliable and value for money services are the most important factors in making buses feel like a realistic transport option for those with a choice.
  • However, other significant barriers exist in terms of not being able to find or understand information about a journey, and not being comfortable using a bus stop.
  • The provision of information at the stop along with seating, shelter and feeling safe are particularly important, especially if the stop is in an exposed position or when passengers may have some time to wait.
  • We will continue to work with Transport for Wales to improve the bus passenger experience over the coming months. We welcome their plans to standardise and develop a priority list of features and improvements for bus stops in different locations. With better information online and at bus stops, these initiatives can only improve the passenger experience and encourage bus use.


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