National Bus Strategy for EnglandSource: RNS
15 March 2021
National Bus Strategy for England
Stagecoach Group plc ("Stagecoach") welcomes the publication today (15 March 2021) by the Department for Transport of its National Bus Strategy for England.
Buses are a critical mode of public transport, including for young people and socially excluded groups. They connect people with work, education, skills, retail, health and other public services, and bring friends and families together. Buses are also central to delivering a green recovery, decarbonisation, cleaner air, and levelling up the country.
Over the past 35 years, there has been a dramatic improvement in the levels of investment, service quality and passenger satisfaction as a result of private sector innovation and a focus on customer service. However, the potential of buses has remained unfulfilled due to a failure to seriously tackle car use, resulting in slower services, higher operational costs and fares and declining passenger numbers.
Stagecoach welcomes the Government's commitment today to maximise the potential of buses to help achieve the country's objectives, particularly as it looks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
If all partners use the new framework and their joint resources to work together to deliver practical improvements and are not side-tracked by structures, there is a major opportunity to reverse a cycle of declining bus use and maximise the potential of buses to help the country build back better.
Strong partnership working between bus operators, national government and local transport authorities is fundamental to transforming the country's bus networks, making services faster and more affordable, and reducing unnecessary car journeys.
It is important that these partnerships have the flexibility to harness the respective strengths of the public sector and commercial bus operators, and reflect local circumstances. This will ensure the best results for customers, consistently high standards across the country, and mean that bus networks fully meet the changes in people's working and leisure patterns.
We are pleased to see the government's acknowledgement that clear targets need to be set for local authorities and bus operators to improve services for customers and local communities and drive passenger growth.
This must include a focus on practical measures to address road congestion, the major barrier to ensuring high quality bus services, and deliver better priority and punctuality for passengers making a greener choice of travel.
We welcome the government's commitment to invest in new green technology to accelerate the shift to ultra-low and zero emissions vehicles. Stagecoach has invested more than £1billion of investment in cleaner buses, including electric, hydrogen and hybrid-electric vehicles, over the past decade.
The biggest potential of buses to reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality comes from encouraging motorists to switch from the car. As a result, it is important that government measures to improve bus fleets do not have unintended consequences of increasing costs for customers. It is also important that wider taxation policy is consistent so that taking the bus is the most sustainable and the lowest cost choice.
We have been pleased at the significantly increased government investment in buses in recent years. It is essential that the new bus strategy continues to be backed by sufficient public sector resources and the right funding model at national and regional level, complementing the continued investment of bus operators, to deliver the outcomes envisaged by government.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive, said: "We welcome the ambition in the government's new bus strategy. For too long, the power of buses to transform local communities and local people's lives has been overlooked.
"The new bus strategy provides an opportunity for all partners - operators, national government and local authorities - to work together to harness the huge potential of the bus to help tackle climate change, deliver better air quality in our towns and cities, secure improved mobility for local people and support a sustainable economic recovery for the country.
"Planning our towns and cities around green buses and active travel, rather than private cars, is central to delivering faster, better value services and getting more people back on board the bus. That is why it is critical that the new bus strategy is matched by the right level of funding, consistent policy across government and a flexible partnership approach which prioritises benefits for customers and local communities.
"As we look to emerge from Covid, we also want to work closely with government on a proactive joint campaign to rebuild consumer confidence in public transport and to promote the wider green credentials of travelling by bus. We look forward to understanding more detail around the government's plans for the future and its proposed roadmap to bridge from the pandemic to a new era for buses."
For further information, please contact:
Stagecoach Group plc www.stagecoachgroup.com
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