Buses and the Economy II: Task 6 Report

The role and value of bus services outside towns and cities – a case study of Shrewsbury

Buses and the Economy II investigates the link between bus services in the UK and the wider economy. This research aims to demonstrate how buses provide vital access to jobs; facilitate access to shopping and leisure facilities, especially in town and city centres; and their added value to society in the form of social welfare and public health.

The research, commissioned by Greener Journeys and carried out by the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds in partnership with the Department for Transport, shows the crucial role played by the bus in driving jobs and economic prosperity. The research is a follow-up to our 2012 report on Buses and Economic Growth.

With five billion bus journeys made each year, buses make up more than three times the number of rail journeys. However, cuts by local authorities to spending on buses, the threat of removal of bus lanes and a renewed focus on car priority measures continues to put pressure on bus services. This report brings into sharp focus that if bus services suffer, local businesses, local economies and local communities are likely to suffer too.

 The key findings include:

·         There is a significant relationship between accessibility by bus and employment.

·         People in urban areas who are currently unemployed and seeking work depend heavily on the bus for access to employment. This is particularly the case for younger people, females, those with no car available and those with lower skills.

·         The bus is a vital artery for shopping trips. In our sample survey, 70% of non-food shopping trips are to town/city centres with 30% out of town. Bus has the largest market share (one third) of retail/expenditure trips to city centres. Bus users contribute 22% of expenditures on non-food and entertainment across all locations.

·         The bus has an important social insurance dimension. This is the value of having the option available of using the bus, plus any social or community value buses have on behalf of others.

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