Latest Public Sector News

24.09.19

Bus journeys at lowest level in over a decade, new figures reveal

The number of bus journeys has plummeted again and is at its lowest number since 2007. The ‘worrying trend’ was revealed today following recent polls commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA).

Latest government figures show that there were 4.31 billion passenger journeys made in England for the year ending June 2019. This is 30 million less journeys than the previous year.

The LGA, which represents councils, wants there to be automatic access to franchising powers, allowing councils to protect and improve local bus routes. Giving local communities the power to take bus services into their own hands.

This is supported by the public as the survey found that 69% of residents think local councils should be the main decision-makers on bus services.

There is a worry that as bus journeys decline in numbers, there will be an increase in congestion and poor air quality in local communities.

The LGA, has previously warned that nearly half of all bus routes are at risk, as the funding gap from government for the concessionary bus fare scheme is expected to get bigger, from the estimated £652 million shortfall in 2017/18.

The scheme, which is a legal requirement, provides a lifeline by offering free, off-peak travel to older and disabled residents.

To help narrow the funding gap, councils have been forced to reduce spending on concessionary fares across England by 26%. While in England, outside of London, spending on supported bus services has seen a drop of 33%

LGA Transport spokesman, councillor David Renard, said:

“Today’s figures reveal a worrying trend where the number of bus journeys continues to fall.”

“This reinforces the need for the Government to let councils be allowed to decide how bus services operate for the benefit of their local communities.

 “Most residents want to see councils take control over how bus routes operate in their local area. With proper funding and by giving all councils oversight through automatic franchising powers, councils will be better placed to reverse the decline in passenger numbers and enable more people to use the bus services they cherish and rely on all year round.”

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