New survey says bus travel is gaining popularity

Results indicate that changes to local public transport have met with passenger approval.

Local transport chiefs are celebrating after a survey indicated that recent changes in bus operations have met with public approval. Research by regional transport authority network Centro has revealed that bus passenger numbers and satisfaction ratings are up in areas where a major shake-up of services and routes, known as Bus Network Reviews, has been carried out, despite passenger numbers declining in other parts of the UK.

Since 2008 a total of eight reviews have already taken place across the West Midlands with Centro working in partnership with private bus companies and local councils to simplify service numbers, improve routes, timetables, passenger information and shelters. These reviews were held as part of Transforming Bus Travel, a Centro programme for modernising and enhancing the region’s bus network with partnership agreements targeted to be in place across the entire Centro region by 2013.

Members were told the first review took place in Dudley in 2008. Following the review figures showed patronage grew 4.2% in the following year while customer satisfaction soared to 20% above average for the region. Similarly, in South Solihull the review took place in 2009 and during the following year patronage had risen by 3.8%, with customer satisfaction at 88% – a rise of eight per cent on the previous year.

Key investments from operators have included new and refurbished buses, improved vehicle cleanliness and bus tracking for Real Time Information. In several areas the review had enabled the highway authority to introduce schemes to remove congestion and improve journey times at key junctions for buses. Reviews have also allowed the introduction of additional customer benefits including, new shelters, interchange improvements and supporting operator investment in hybrid and electric buses.