Local bus services across the country are becoming increasingly difficult to access for residents in need of reliable transport. According to research conducted by the Local Government Association, subsidised bus services have taken a significant hit in 2016 – with options being cut by over 12% over the last twelve months. But what can be done to save our local bus services?
The Cuts in Number
The devastating impact on society
When older people are left without transport, it affects their ability to get out and about and be part of their communities. This in turn can lead to social isolation.
Getting out of the house with a sense of purpose provides an important source of enjoyment and activity for older people and without accessible transport this is at risk.
Buses enable the elderly to go places where they would not have gone otherwise. To events, either sporting or cultural events or day trips out, which would otherwise be quite difficult to do. It’s this kind social interaction of travelling together which can make a difference to their lives.
This is an issue that affects both younger and older people, as social isolation can be caused by bullying and discrimination, particularly against “young disabled people, LGBT people, and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Research by Age UK has found that cuts to bus services has made it more difficult for older people to access their doctor’s surgery, visit friends in hospital, or for people to visit them when they were in hospital. .
Accessible buses are vital for older people at risk of isolation with the transport they need to access social opportunities and health services.
Improving access to GPs and healthcare facilities can result in early diagnosis and treatment, which in turn leads to reduced mortality rates, improved health outcomes and reduced health inequalities. This access also reduces non-attendance for health services by ensuring those with transport difficulties do not miss their scheduled appointments.
A logical & economical solution
In response to the worrying bus cuts, the manager of Mellor, Mr. John Randerson, wrote a letter to the transport minister highlighting a key reason why the bus industry is currently losing money.
“Many people assume that the buses simply don’t get enough passengers – but the truth is that the real problem is that buses aren’t appropriately sized.
One of the measures local authorities could take is to invest in SIZE APPROPRIATE BUSES, a solution we believe is the right one to take in most situations.”
The benefits of size appropriate buses
Let's take a look at the differences between a size appropriate bus and a traditional small bus
- Lower CO2 emissions
- More miles/gallon
- Modern vehicles = lower maintenance costs
- Cheaper to operate
- Easier access down narrow roads
- Less capacity = less empty seats
Traditional Small Bus
- Higher CO2 emissions
- Less miles/gallon
- Older vehicles = higher maintenance costs
- More expensive to operate
- Struggle down narrow roads
- Higher capacity = more empty seats
Get the size right - a message from John Randerson of Mellor
The choice many local authorities face when it comes to reduced budgets is whether to subsidise the route, take the operation in-house or pull the plug on it. Unfortunately, the all too frequent response is for the routes to get pulled.
Not only does a smaller bus prove a more economical option, it also ‘helps the environment’. The reduced fuel consumption with smaller buses means less exhaust emissions.
They are ‘more nimble’ too. How many times have you gone into a small village and the flow of traffic has been interrupted as a large bus drops off passengers?
Better accessibility is another advantage over larger buses. Smaller buses can easily access housing estates and better deal with traffic calming measures.
There is a social benefit to the small bus too as they are ‘much more personable’.
Although small buses do not ‘solve every problem’, more appropriately sized vehicles goes some way to alleviating the issue.
How can you help?
Download the Campaign for Better transport guide and help raise immediate awareness by sharing the #saveyourlocalbus image below
Saving Your Bus Service - Campaign for Better Transport
Campaign for Better Transport is an independent charity that provides well-researched, practical solutions to transport problems, pressuring national and local government to adopt them. For over 40 years they have worked with hundreds of thousands of inspiring people, fighting for better public transport, walking and cycling, for the sake of communities and the environment.
Campaign for Better Transport have an in-depth guide providing step by step advice on how you can campaign to save your bus service, with sections including planning your campaign, what you need to know and using the media.
Their guide will give you the confidence and tools for you to campaign to save or reinstate your bus service. Download it below!