February 13 2020

CPT’s External Relations Manager Tom Bartošák-Harlow provides a recap of last week’s sixth annual UK Bus Summit, where the issue of congestion was high on the agenda and he got to hear speeches from CPT’s Graham Vidler, buses minister Baroness Vere and other industry professionals.

Last week was my first UK Bus Summit and it was great to see so many leaders of the bus industry, including CPT’s CEO Graham Vidler, discussing the challenges that we face, but more importantly how we can tackle them together.

The Government also took advantage of the event to (re)announce funding for a range of bus measures including £50m for the first all-electric bus town, £30m to help restore lost bus routes as well as opening expressions of interest for areas interested in becoming superbus networks.  This meant my day started in a BBC studio with CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler who was giving 5 Live Breakfast the CPT view – you can listen to Graham here (skip to 2 hours 6 minutes). Since then we have also had a much bigger announcement of £5bn for buses and cycling.

The major theme of the summit was unquestionably that without a long term strategy to tackle congestion other measures to encourage more people to take the bus will not reach their full potential. This is why CPT is urging the Government to ensure that tackling congestion is at the heart of its National Bus Strategy.  We will continue to press this message home in the coming weeks and have more worked planned – watch this space.

Claire Haigh of Greener Journeys also delivered a passionate speech about how increasing bus passengers will be central to meeting UK net zero emissions goals. CPT has calculated that by increasing bus passenger numbers by 20% over a decade we will save four times as much Carbon Dioxide from entering the atmosphere as we will by only buying ultra-low or zero emission vehicles from 2025. Without wanting to sound like a broken record on congestion, this can only be delivered if alongside the industry’s plans for simpler ticketing and reduced travel costs for job seekers and apprentices we speed up bus journey times.

The Summit was also a chance to hear from business groups, including the CBI on how bus operators can work with them to deliver a more prosperous economy. The messages that came through around joined up thinking across government, while well-worn, are important and ones that we need to make sure politicians at all levels do not forget.

We are already in February and it has been a strong start to the year for the bus industry but much of the hard work is still to come but it is something that I and the whole of CPT is looking forward to engaging in.