Appearing before the Transport Select Committee, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has called for a modernised rethink of bus services in the UK that will make it for the 21st century.
Nick Richardson, technical principal of Mott MacDonald and chairman of Bus & Coach Policy Group at CILT insisted that attention to what people want from bus services must take precedence over different forms of governance.
CILT was invited to give evidence after its Public Policy Committee and specialist Bus & Coach and Accesibility & Inclusion forums submitted a written response to the Health of the Bus Market inquiry launched by MPs.
Research has found that buses accounted for 5% of all journeys in the UK in 2016 – the highest percentage for any form of public transport – but annual journeys per person in cities outside the capital have fallen by 40% over the last 25 years..
Speaking to the committee, Richardson said: “There is a pressing need to review how to deliver the bus services that consumers require in the 21st Century. Bus operators are doing their best under very difficult circumstances. I am sure they would argue that they are over regulated and can’t get on with the business of delivering a good service through no fault of their own.”
The chair also discussed how good bus services are essential for the economy, the environment and a less congested and polluted Britain, while changes must be made in the way that bus services are viewed, operated and funded.
Richardson added: “We should certainly look at examples of best practice that have been achieved through partnerships. Working with the consumers and big employers, as well as education establishments, especially as the student population continues to grow. There is huge potential in younger people, many of whom don’t aspire to drive a car – that is a future generation providing an awful lot of opportunities if they can be exploited.”
It’s the view of the institute that the successful bus services in many towns and cities in the UK have been achieved by collaborative working. The body claims that partnerships can achieve result within the existing legislative and regulatory framework, but more needs to be done to refocus legislation changes to assist users rather than expand the range of local governance options.
“The only way we can grow the bus market is not by competing for the people who use bus services at the moment, it is about extending that market and targeting and attracting those people who are car users,” Richardson concluded.