• Bus operators come together to launch initiatives to address loneliness
• One in three people deliberately catch the bus to talk to someone
• Two-thirds of bus users believe that the bus creates stronger community ties
Chatty buses that encourage passengers to talk to each other are among the initiatives that bus operators are launching as part of an industry pledge announced today to tackle the UK epidemic of loneliness.
Go Ahead’s buses will have chatty bus ambassadors on board who will distribute “happy to chat” badges to passengers as part of the fight against loneliness.
Other initiatives include Hattie, Stagecoach’s open top community bus that has been redesigned to promote a safe place where passengers can meet and chat to new people; and National Express’s campaign aimed at older people featuring real life bus users from the West Midlands who tell their own stories about how they use their bus passes to socialise and pursue their hobbies.
Firstgroup is helping vulnerable bus users to travel by bus with its better journey cards; and Arriva is launching a digital hub of local community groups, local charities and organisations that are accessible via its bus routes.
The industry pledge – announced at the UK Bus Summit in London – comes as new figures show that the UK is in the grip of a loneliness epidemic, with three in 10 people going at least one day a week without speaking to anyone close to them.
The findings from Greener Journeys, the sustainable transport group, also showed that one in three people deliberately catch the bus to have some human contact.
The crucial role that buses play in facilitating social interactions and alleviating loneliness is supported by previous research for Greener Journeys, which shows that two-thirds of people believe that buses improve community ties.
Buses are our most popular form of public transport, accounting for two thirds of all journeys. They carry millions of people to work and places of education and provide crucial access to town centres. Some 80 per cent of bus passengers view the bus as part of the fabric of UK society, connecting them to friends, family and communities.
Last year the Government launched its Loneliness Strategy. Launching the strategy, Prime Minister Theresa May described loneliness as “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time”.
Speaking at the UK Bus Summit in London today, Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, will call for a long-term bus investment strategy to maximise the benefits that buses bring.
As well as delivering excellent value for money – every £1 invested in local bus infrastructure can deliver up to £8 wide economic benefit – buses deliver huge social benefits and help to reduce harmful emissions.
Nusrat Ghani, the Transport Minister, said:
“Transport has a vital role to play in tackling loneliness, and something as simple as a bus journey can put a smile on someone’s face. That’s why I’m delighted to be partnering with Greener Journeys to ensure that transport is accessible for all, and I look forward to seeing further innovations from the sector.”
Claire Haigh, Chief Executive, Greener Journeys, said:
“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Government to tackle the epidemic of loneliness that is affecting millions of people in the UK. Research from Greener Journeys shows that a third of people in Britain go at least a day a week without speaking to anyone, not a friend, colleague or family member.
“Buses play a vital role in facilitating social connections among the most vulnerable people in society. Every day they carry millions of people to work and places of education and people rely on them to take them to visit friends and family. It’s fantastic to see the industry come together to launch such a brilliant range of initiatives to address the problem of loneliness.”
For further information
Greener Journeys Press Office
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Notes to Editors
About Greener Journeys
Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices. It is a coalition of the UK’s leading public transport organizations, user groups and supporters. It aims to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by encouraging people to switch some of their car journeys to bus or coach instead. Switching from car to bus for just one journey a month would mean one billion fewer car journeys on our roads and would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year.