On the Move 2005 - The Changing Face of the UK Bus Industry

Published: 30-06-2005

The fastest growing routes in a buoyant British bus industry are unveiled today and in pole position is the X30/X31 from Newcastle to Lanchester in County Durham. Passenger figures for 2004 are up 131 per cent compared to 2003. 

On The Move, produced by industry body the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), reveals remarkable examples of growth in the top 50.

Occupying second place is the X1 Clitheroe in Lancashire to Manchester service with an increase of 94 per cent. In third position is the number 24 between Blaenavon and Newport in South Wales with a passenger growth of 76.9 per cent. 

Topping the 15 fastest growing networks is Exeter Park and Ride, with passenger numbers up 34 per cent.  The report also reveals that bus use is accelerating. More than 4.5 billion bus journeys were made in 2004, a figure that is a ten-year high and up two per cent from the previous year.

Growth is strongest in London where the unique transport conditions make the bus the only viable option for many commuters. 

Outside the capital, there is growth where partnerships between operators and local authorities result in the creation of popular, sustainable services. The increase in passenger numbers has produced an improved turnover.

In 2004 bus operators were able to invest in 8,871 new vehicles, more than double the figure of 1993, due to a turnover of £4.6 billion. Passengers are travelling in newer, greener buses and the average age of the country’s fleet is now eight years, down from 9.6 a decade ago.  

Almost a quarter of all bus journeys are now for commuting and business purposes, which is an increase of one per cent from the previous year’s figure. That is an extra seven million journeys made by bus for work purposes.  

Karen Buck MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport comments: “The Government firmly believes bus travel has an essential role to play in building a more balanced, less congested transport environment. That is why Government and local authorities are investing £1.6 billion to support local bus services.   

“As the figures in this edition of 'One the Move' clearly demonstrate, declines in bus patronage can be reversed. Where bus services are improved, bus use increases, and this in turn encourages better services. Operators need to invest in reliable, clean and comfortable buses, while commitment has to come from local transport and highway authorities to provide the best achievable transport facilities and road conditions.”   

CPT spokesman Simon Posner comments:  “The bus industry is enjoying something of a renaissance and modern bus travel is increasingly reliable, convenient and cost-effective.  Where there is patronage growth on routes and networks, there has been unity between bus operators and local authorities and a commitment to improving services. The obvious reward is that more people use the bus.”

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