Transport User Voice – October 2020 – Priorities for bus improvements

29 September 2020

Passengers and potential users give us their views

What do bus passengers most want to see improved? ‘More frequent buses’ has replaced value in the top spot.

We asked 5000 bus users across England (outside London) about their priorities for improvement. This information helps bus operators and local authorities make strategic decisions about bus services throughout the country.

The bus users were asked to rank a list of 30 potential improvements to their bus service in order of priority. The top five are:

  1. buses running more often
  2. buses going to more places
  3. more buses on time at the stop
  4. better value for money
  5. more bus journeys on time.

This is a shift from recent years. If we compare the findings to 2016, for example, buses running more often has moved up from third place to first. There was also a significant jump for buses going to more places, rising from sixth in 2016 to second in the most recent research.

By breaking the latest research down into age groups, we can notice some interesting differences in priorities. Among the 35-64 category, better value for money emerged as the top priority, while among 20-34 year olds, more buses arriving on time at your bus stop was ranked highest. For 14-19 year olds, free Wi-Fi being more widely available came out as the second priority for improvement – significantly higher than the ranking for Wi-Fi in any other age bracket.

We also captured the views of 1700 non-bus users, so we can understand how the industry can make bus a more attractive option to them. For this group, buses going to more places was the top priority for improvement by quite some margin.

In addition to improvement areas, we asked about attitudes towards buses more generally. All bus users, youth users and non-bus users agreed that a good bus network is important for the local community. There were low levels of agreement among all three categories with the statement ‘people like me don’t use buses’, though less than half of non-bus users view buses as a good way to get about.

This research was conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, and the effects of the virus has undoubtedly changed passengers’ current priorities for bus travel. Cleanliness and how busy services are have understandably become much greater concerns. Nonetheless, frequency, available destinations, punctuality, and value for money will remain important priorities post Covid-19.

You can download the report here.


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