The importance of the bus to the UK economy has been highlighted by an authoritative new report which includes a five point plan for growth which the government is being urged to adopt.
The Buses and Economic Growth report, undertaken by the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, revealed that more people commute to work by bus than all other public transport combined; bus commuters generate over £64 billion of economic output and 400,000 people are in better, more productive jobs as a result of the bus.
Drawing on key findings from the report, Greener Journeys, a campaign to promote sustainable travel, produced the five point plan for growth which calls for:
1. More co-ordinated pro-bus policy and funding arrangements at central and local government level
2. Good value, multi-operator ticketing, in particular to help low-income groups and young people
3. Taxation incentives for travelling by bus and more focus on travel planning support
4. Local Enterprise Partnerships, businesses and town centres to help fund bus improvements to boost local economies
5. Closer partnership working between bus operators, business and local government
In Brighton & Hove bus patronage and satisfaction rates have gone from strength to strength for over a decade thanks in large part to a series of innovative bus enhancement measures including real-time bus information displays and exceptional frequency rates.
An important element of transport for the local economy is linking outlying areas like Saltdean and Peacehaven with the city centre to facilitate travel-to-work patterns.
Controversial bus lanes along the A259 were introduced in 2008 but recent surveys have shown that in the peak hour 45% of people travelling in vehicles along the A259 through Saltdean towards Brighton had opted to use the bus. And buses accounted for just 2% of the vehicles passing through, demonstrating the effectiveness of the dedicated lanes.
Roger French, MD of Brighton & Hove Bus Company, said, “I’m pleased to see the significant contribution buses make to local economies and town centres being recognised in this report. Something we’ve long realised here in this city as well as the important role buses play in catering for commuters, students and young people.”
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Buses are the mainstay of the public transport sector, carrying millions of passengers every day for business and leisure as well as helping to cut carbon by reducing congestion and replacing car journeys. And crucially, as this report highlights, buses are a keystone to the economy.
David Brown, Chief Executive of Go-Ahead which includes Brighton & Hove Bus Company, said,”Buses provide crucial access to labour markets and support to businesses and local retail economies. People understand the social and environmental importance of buses. This report highlights the economic benefits that the bus can bring.”
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