The use of low emission buses is part of a ‘virtuous mix’ of policy solutions that can buck the trend of falling passenger numbers, according to a new report.
Any Journey is Greener By Bus, published by Greener Journeys, finds that some areas that have introduced cleaner vehicle technology and other innovative features are attracting people back to buses, ‘and even out of their cars in some cases’.
A double decker on the quayside in Bristol
The report identifies Bristol, Reading and Milton Keynes as ‘star performers’, with bus patronage increasing 19%, 17% and 15% respectively over the last six years.
Bristol is one area that has had some success in achieving a modal shift from cars in recent years, although former mayor George Ferguson’s introduction of residents’ parking zones proved controversial.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: ‘This new report clearly shows that investment in buses, and prioritisation of bus networks, can reap real rewards by increasing passenger numbers and taking more cars off the road, with all the economic, social and environmental benefits that brings.
‘We would encourage councils and operators across the UK to look at the innovative services, measures for tackling congestion and clean bus technology detailed in this report as a model for raising usage and sparking their own bus renaissance.’
Despite recent falls in bus use in London, the report says there are ‘indications of a positive correlation between the introduction of greener buses and their usage by pasengers’.
While acknowledging that other factors, including measures to reduce congestion, are pushing in the same direction, it argues: ‘in many cases green bus adoption is clearly part of a virtuous mix of policy solutions’.
Local Government Association transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: ‘While it is great news that more people in some areas are using buses, these cherished services remain under threat as councils continue facing severe budgetary pressures.’