I have introduced a ten minute rule bill that will ensure that bus operators consult passengers before services are changed.
Buses are an important mode of transport for many across the UK with billions of journeys every year for work, hospital and doctors’ appointments. Buses can be a lifeline to keep in touch with family and friends and contribute to living a full life for many older people. When timetables change without any prior knowledge or consultation, this can leave people stranded at bus stops, or rushing to catch a bus which will not arrive. This can also mean hard working bus passengers may have to change their routines which could affect their ability to get to work on time.
Yet, currently, when bus timetables are considered for change, operators are only required to inform the local authorities and traffic commissioner of intended changes and cancellations to routes, with no official requirement to inform or consult the users of the service.
The bill will ensure that efforts are made to consult with the passengers of the bus that may be considered for a timetable change so they can be heard in the decision process.
I hope this bill to give a voice to bus users so they are able to contribute to the decisions that could have a major impact on their lives.
I originally conceived the bill after I facilitated local engagement sessions with local bus users to raise their experiences directly with a local bus company where concerns were raised about the lack of input passengers have on decisions around bus timetables. I shared some of these stories in my adjournment debate in Parliament just before Christmas where I raised the concerns that changes to bus timetables, cancellation of routes or a lack of information on timetable changes can cause chaos for people who use bus services.
Buses are used for twice as many journeys as trains, they keep our towns, cities and villages moving and improve accessibility to the countryside yet their passengers are not all consistently heard in timetable decisions that could affect their lives.
We want more people to use public transport for a host of reasons including the environmental benefits. My proposal will help support bus users and hopefully give more reassurances to new bus users that their voices are heard.
I firmly believe residents who depend on bus services should be given a crucial opportunity to feed into a consultation beforehand given the impact this may have on their lives and their continued use of bus services. I hope to garner support from across the House on this issue which will help so many across the country.
Find out more about my bill in the news posts below.