February 18 2022

In this week’s blog post Rebecca Kite, CPT’s Policy Manager, writes about how bus travel can help to achieve levelling up goals.

If Government wants to level up the UK then it needs to level up bus.

In the recently published Levelling Up white paper Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, described levelling up as giving everyone the opportunity to flourish. For people to flourish they need to have equal access to these opportunities and we can make sure this is possible with fast, reliable transport networks.

Bus travel creates more inclusive communities and for the 1 in 4 people who do not have access to a car, buses can be a lifeline to accessing jobs, education, essential services and leisure activities. It was promising to see Government recognise the power of bus in its white paper, but for the industry to play its full role in the levelling up agenda, we need to see action taken to make sure everyone has the option to catch the bus.

To achieve this we need to see bus travel at the heart of transport planning. Measures that prioritise bus travel improve journey times and give passengers confidence that they will get to where they need to be on time. Bus lanes, bus only roads and priority at traffic lights are the types of measures that put the bus first rather than prioritise road space for car users and can as a result make bus the most appealing travel option, encouraging people to leave the car at home and go by public transport instead.

Government has critical decisions to make around funding so that bus services can continue to run. This starts with ensuring funding can support bus networks beyond April whilst passenger numbers continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

For one in five journeys made by bus, a practical alternative doesn’t exist. Supporting bus services now with appropriate funding and investment in bus priority means we are closer to achieving levelling up ambitions, making sure people can rely on the bus to make their journeys, and helping to reduce dependence on the car which is vital to delivering the UK’s ambitious environmental targets.

You can read the Government’s Levelling Up white paper here.