Latest Public Sector News

18.12.17

Grayling: Buses could be replaced with ‘Uber-style’ services

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has suggested that local bus services could be replaced with an ‘Uber-style’ system.

In comments made during an October meeting between Grayling and LGA officials, the secretary explained that service provision would be changing over the coming years.

Speaking with Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, and Martin Tett, the chair of its transport board, Grayling said there could be a move toward “demand-led” services.

He commented: “The nature of bus provision is likely to change over the coming years, with more Uber-style, demand-led services replacing traditional services.”

The LGA reported last week that bus passenger numbers had fallen to their lowest level in a decade, down to 4.4 billion passengers across the country in 2016-17.

This is a drop of around 70 million journeys in the country in the year to March – a decrease of 1.5%.

Grayling’s plans have been greeted with criticism from the opposition, as Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said bus services were a “lifeline” to many people in society.

“For many people, especially the young and the elderly, those living in rural areas and those who do not own a car, bus services are a lifeline, but rather than addressing the buses crisis, Chris Grayling’s solution is to say let them take taxis,” McDonald stated.

“Nobody wants to see Uber replacing local bus services except Chris Grayling.”

In addition to an overall fall in passengers, buses in England travelled 1.1% fewer miles in the same period, a decline which the LGA puts down to local authorities no longer being able to fund many support services.

When the figures were revealed last week, Tett said: “It is hugely concerning to see such a steady decrease in bus journeys.

“Buses provide a vital service for our communities and a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents to go shopping, pick up medication, attend doctor appointments or socialise with friends. Councils know how important buses are for their residents and local economies and are desperate to protect them.

“It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services like caring for the elderly, filling potholes and collecting bins. Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.”

He also called on the government to provide more appropriate funding for concessionary travel schemes, and give councils full control over the Bus Service Operators Grant.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

Dominic Macdonald-Wallace   18/12/2017 at 12:48

“For many people, especially the young and the elderly, those living in rural areas and those who do not own a car, bus services are a lifeline, but rather than addressing the buses crisis, Chris Grayling’s solution is to say let them take taxis,” McDonald stated. Maybe an alternative view is that people take a bus to reach a destination, not to use a bus. So is this about exploring new ways to enable people to reach their destination? For example, if there were a 90% cheaper way of getting them there, 10 times faster than using a bus (not that taxis will be that solution), would we keep the empty buses anyway? As we step into the 4th Industrial Revolution, there are many traditions that may be challenged.

Ian C L Thompson   04/01/2018 at 08:54

No empty buses here in Oxford. Any fall-off in passenger numbers is due to George Osborne's cuts to local authority funding. Has Grayling invented a taxi that can carry 78 people in as little road space as a bus? You'd need sixteen taxis for that. To move those passengers with as little air-pollution as a Euro VI bus produces, each Grayling taxi would have to do over 110 mpg. Sixty-four taxi tyres produce far more carcinogenic waste than six bus tyres, and the same is true for brake linings---except that here buses show an even greater advantage. Get yourself a pocket calculator, Chris Grayling!

B Price   16/02/2018 at 11:28

I live on gower about 30 mins from swansea city centre. We don't have a bus after 6 pm and non on Sunday so can't go to theatre or meals in swansea in the evening. Lots of people just don't make use of buses if they have a car anyway.

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the rol... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >