Transport User Voice – What do young people want from their bus service?

19 December 2017

Young people are the largest group of bus passengers – so why are they the least satisfied?

New research looks at how Government and the industry can improve the bus experience for young passengers. Outside of London, less and less people are taking buses in England. Despite this, young people (aged 16-20 years) are the single largest group of bus passengers over all other age brackets. Given their share of the market, what do young people think about their bus service?

The 2016 Transport Focus Bus Passenger Survey (BPS), covering the views of 47,000 passengers, tells us that almost eight in 10 passengers in the 16-18 age group were either satisfied or very satisfied with their journey. While this result was up from the score recorded in 2015, our BPS work consistently tells us that 16-18 year olds are the least satisfied group of all passengers across all the measurements in our survey.

We know that for young people the cost of owning a car has become more prohibitive in recent years. This is an opportunity for bus operators and local authorities to encourage young people to make more bus journeys and, longer term, to make bus a real alternative for younger people.

Several bus operators and authorities have grasped this opportunity to deliver initiatives to encourage young people to make more bus trips. These include:

  • cheap and easier to understand fare deals for those in full-time education
  • providing free Wi-Fi and at-seat charging for personal devices, to allow people to make better use of the time on buses
  • mobile technology to provide smart ticketing and journey planning.

But these initiatives are patchy across Great Britain. Against this backdrop of low satisfaction levels, and the Government and bus industry grappling with how to make bus the transport choice of tomorrow, what could we do to help young passengers?

Transport Focus’s new research explores the current experiences and views of young bus passengers and how the industry could attract and retain the bus users of tomorrow. As part of this work, we also included the views of even younger passengers, under the age of 16, which are not captured through our BPS work.

This new work is an important contribution to understanding what this key group of passengers, aged 14-19 years old, needs and wants from their bus service to encourage them to become tomorrow’s loyal bus users. The report will be published at the end of January 2018.

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