Dean Russell MP will introduce a bill today to ensure 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 proposed by Dean Russell MP 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.
The Bill hopes 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.
The Bill was originally conceived after Dean 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. Dean shared some of these stories in his adjournment debate in Parliament just before Christmas where he 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.
Dean said, 'I am pleased to bring this important Bill before the House of Commons as I know bus services effect every constituency and council ward in the country. I am hoping that the Government, local government and bus operators heed my call to give a voice to bus users who so often depend on public transport 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'.
Dean has met with the Minister for Transport Richard Holden to discuss the proposals and he is pleased that the Government have rightly been investing heavily in public transport, including the £3 billion Bus Back Better Strategy.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Hertfordshire County Council received £29.7 million for the Bus Service Improvement Plan as part of the £3 billion Bus Back Better Strategy.
Dean will be introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill; Bus Services (Consultation) Bill; to require consultation of bus users before changes are made to bus services; and for connected purposes. The Bill is a motion to seek permission to introduce a bill.
The number of local bus passenger journeys in England saw an increase by 1.3 billion (79.6%) to 2.8 billion in the financial year ending March 2022. This was, however, still far lower than 2 years ago where passenger journeys in the financial year ending 2020 for England were 4.1 billion.
Total concessionary journey (elderly or disabled, and youth concessions) in the financial year ending in 2022 made up 32.7% (928 million passenger journeys) of all local bus passenger journeys in England).
In the financial year ending 2022, 2.8 billion passenger journeys were made by local bus in England
Passenger journeys in London accounted for 52% of all passenger journeys made by local buses in England in the financial year ending 2022.