September 30 2019
Today feels rather momentous. At long last the Government has acknowledged the importance of the bus with the announcement that it will develop a National Bus Strategy – something we asked for in Moving Forward Together earlier this month, and something we’ve consistently talked about in meetings with Government officials, Ministers and, more recently, at No. 10 Downing Street.
So what does this actually mean in practice?
It should send a signal to local authorities that buses are important and that means working with bus operators to deliver improved services for passengers. The creation of ‘super bus networks’ - also announced by the Chancellor - will be an important first step in tackling congestion and providing passengers with quicker and more reliable buses.
And it is encouraging to see the Government sharing our vision for cleaner, greener buses with the announcement of £50m to develop an ‘all electric bus town’.
But we need to make sure that this isn’t all just a ‘flash in the pan’. It is important that the strategy provides a truly long-term vision for buses, with measures to secure real buy-in from local authorities and backed by the longer term funding required to make it happen. Working closely with government to ensure the strategy can deliver real improvements for passengers – and ultimately get more people onto the bus - will be a top priority of mine going forward.
So whilst it is encouraging that government is listening to us at last, this is no time to sit back and reflect on our achievements. There is still work to do. But there is no denying that these are exciting times for the bus industry. It looks as if the Government is throwing down the gauntlet. We stand ready to showcase what we can achieve when given the right tools.
Alison Edwards, Policy Manager, CPT