Buses in the UK – a tale of five billion journeys

Claire Haigh
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Last week the Department for Transport published its Annual Bus Statistics for 2012/2013. Although the data revealed a slight levelling out in the number of journeys, the new figures nevertheless reinforce how important the bus continues to be to vast swathes of people across the UK. Over 5 billion travellers’ choose the bus to get to work, to school, to the shops.

These figures reaffirm the bus’s position as the pre-eminent form of public transport and the lifeblood of the UK economy; providing clean, green and safe links and lifelines to billions of travellers and carrying more commuters each year than all other forms of public transport combined, together creating economic outputs worth £64 billion.

Statistics also released last week in the National Travel Survey emphasise the crucial importance of the bus to young people across the country. Males and females aged between 17 and 20 years old made more bus journeys than any other age group in 2012 with 13% of all their trips made by bus – also the highest proportion out of all age groups.

Evidence of the reliance of young people, particularly the young unemployed, on the bus was also revealed in recent Greener Journeys research, conducted by the University of Leeds. Key findings include that the vast majority of unemployed 18-24 years olds – 82% – have no access to a car and strongly rely on public transport in all areas of their life.  Equally the research showed that almost one quarter (24%) of unemployed 18-24 year olds have been prevented in some way from securing a job because of the lack of a suitable bus service in their area.

These findings reinforce the key role the bus can play in tackling the youth unemployment epidemic that poses a major threat to our country’s long-term prosperity.

Britain has a valuable opportunity to harness the potential of the bus and we need to act now.  In Bus 2020: A Manifesto for the Next Parliament we call on the Government to maximise the potential of the bus to deliver greener growth.  Buses are a key part of the solution to breathing new life into our local communities and high streets, supporting our young people and getting people back to work.

Photo: Fabrizio Lonzini

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