Bus service reductions – the impact on passengers

04 September 2012

The Comprehensive Spending Review reduced the budgets available for local councils and as a consequence also for local transport authorities. To meet the budgetary challenges, publicly-supported bus services (i.e. those not operated on a full commercial basis), have been removed, reduced, or the network altered.

Passenger Focus wants to ensure the best outcome is achieved for passengers following such decisions. We commissioned this research to provide an evidence base of the impact on passengers of changes/reductions to their publicly-supported bus services.

We found there were four main types of impact on people’s quality of life and lifestyle. The research looks at this in more detail and identifies some key things which operators and authorities should consider when making difficult decisions about reducing services. The report also includes many real life examples and quotes from people affected by service changes.

The four main impacts are:

  1. Passengers could not travel like they used to: passengers made less discretionary trips
    “It has made it a bit of a nuisance. You don’t want to be somewhere three hours before you come back. You’re just killing time.”
  2. Dependency on others increased: awkwardness to ask for lifts and their travel plans now being contingent on others
    “Got to rely on people to go shopping, that’s a lifestyle change to rely on other people.”
  3. Sometimes the passenger paid instead: passengers bore some of the costs by using taxis or other paid means of transport
    “It’s cost me a lot more money in taxis, about £7 each way, £14 for the whole fare. It’s a big difference from £2.70 or £3.”
  4. Lack of spontaneity: fewer services on fewer days reduced the opportunity to decide on the day to go out
    “I have to plan more carefully. I can’t decide to go out at the last minute.”
Bus service reductions – the impact on passengers - July 2012.pdf
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