Traffic congestion is a disease which if left unchecked will destroy the bus sector.
This is a dire and sensational prediction, but the evidence uncovered in this research leads to no other conclusion. On historical, current and future trends it’s a question of when, not if. There is a distinct trend across our most congested urban conurbations in the UK of bus journey times rising by – on average – almost 1% per annum.
Over the last 50 years, bus journey times have increased by almost 50% in the more congested urban areas. If we
had protected bus passengers from the growth in congestion there would arguably be between 48% and 70% more fare paying bus passenger journeys today. If the trend is allowed to continue, then our urban buses will no longer represent a viable mode of transport for the majority of its customers and will be populated largely by people with mobility difficulties. Already in London some buses on some routes run at close to walking speed.
Everyone in industry, local government and Whitehall knows we have a problem. Until now it has not been properly quantified. This report makes clear the true extent to which congestion has been corrosive to the bus sector.