As we experience a busy Christmas and New Year shopping period likely to again challenge spending records, an authoritative new academic study reveals more people use the bus to get into our cities than any other form of transport, bringing billions of pounds into city centres.
- 33% of city centre visitors made their most recent trip by bus, more than any other mode of transport
- Bus users spend an average £54 per city centre trip and make up 29% of all city centre spending
- 30% of shoppers rely on the bus as they have no access to a car or van, with a further 6% having only infrequent access
The figures come as a nationwide squeeze on bus spending, continued removal of bus lanes and a renewed focus on car priority measures put pressure on bus services; bringing into sharp focus that if bus services suffer, local businesses and local economies are likely to suffer too.
The study by the University of Leeds, commissioned by Greener Journeys, reveals that the sustainability of city centre shops and businesses outside of London depend heavily on bus users. More of us (33%) outside London made our most recent city centre visit by bus than any other form of transport, with 30% making their most recent trip by car, 22% cycling or walking and 15% getting on the train.
The research – which questioned almost 4,000 UK residents who live outside of London and are over 17 years of age – also highlights that bus users are big spenders, making up 29% of all city centre spend – an average of £54 per trip. People who walk spend on average £41.
The research also highlights that 30% of people have no access to a car with a further 6% only having infrequent access, emphasising how invaluable public transport is for access to shops and services. Further questioning highlighted that without bus services, 16% of bus users would not have undertaken their planned activity, 4% would have switched to shopping from home and 24% would have travelled to a different location.
Altogether, when all shopping and entertainment destinations – city centres, town centres and retail parks or outlets – are considered, buses are the second most common form of transport and bus users are responsible for 22% of spending. Almost a quarter (22%) of us got on the bus last time we went shopping, and of those with limited availability to cars, this rose to over a third. In town centres, cars were the most popular transport choice – 47% travelled by car in their latest visit, 28% walked or cycled and 23% used the bus.
Across all destinations, when questioned on why they preferred the bus, more than a fifth (23%) said they found it less expensive, with 17% indicating it was an easier option and a further 14% suggesting it avoided parking difficulties.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer commented:
“This study shows how buses enable millions of shoppers to get to the shops and businesses that are the crucial backbone of our economy. Supporting and sustaining affordable, accessible bus services is key to strengthening our high streets, helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to prosper and ensuring communities across Britain continue to thrive.”
Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys commented:
“These figures highlight the crucial importance of reliable, frequent bus services to the health and prosperity of shops and businesses across the UK and especially to those in the centre of our biggest cities.
“Thriving, vibrant city centres are a crucial part of the economic and social fabric of this country and Government, councils and businesses should all take notice of the vital importance of good bus services to their ongoing success.
The research outlines that people want more frequent, more reliable bus services to ensure they can travel to town and city centres. This means, as we outline in our Bus 2020 Manifesto, it is essential that Government expand the support available to local authorities and bus operators for installing bus lanes and other priority measures.”
For further information contact:
Greener Journeys Press Office
+44 (0)20 3128 8555
 All figures unless otherwise stated come from ‘Buses and Economic Growth Part II – A survey of expenditure of visitors to city’, conducted by the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds. The University of Leeds questioned 3,960 17+ respondents between the 3 July and the 24 July 2013.
About Greener Journeys
Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices.
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.
It is a coalition of Britain’s leading bus companies and other supporters including Transport for London, Campaign for Better Transport, the RAC Foundation, Confederation for Passenger Transport (CPT), and the Passenger Transport Executive Group (pteg). Its primary funders are bus companies Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, and Stagecoach. For more information visit www.greenerjourneys.com