Buses and tourism

By | Category: Travel rumblings
buses are gaining passengers in London but elsewhere passenger numbers are declining

buses are gaining passengers in London but elsewhere passenger numbers are declining

Hardly mentioned in the Bus Services Bill are passengers. Hardly mentioned in the introduction of the second reading of the bill into the House of Lords was the subject of tourism and how it is integrated with buses.

Since 1980 and last year, bus fares have risen – on average – 61%; rail fares have risen by 65% yet train travel has bloomed and bus travel, at least outside London, declined.

Why the difference? Why, when buses are as important as trains in enabling tourists to see our countries are we not using them as much as we once did? Can it be all down to an increase in car ownership?

In a separate debate last week an ex-bus driver, Rob Marris MP, asked the only really relevant question on bus services and tourism. He wanted to know when the transport ministry would allow more integrated services and to enable councils to run bus services. It is fine and dandy have integrated transport hubs so you get off a train and there is a bus station attached to it but if you can’t buy a ticket that covers you for train and bus travel, how useful is it? I am not talking about the Plus-bus, add-on fares but the ability, for example to buy a single ticket from Doncaster to Whitby which would involve a train from Doncaster to York and then the bus from York to Whitby.

Why can’t you buy a discounted bus ticket a few months in advance like you can with trains? Yes, you can buy an all-day rover ticket inexpensively but that is usually limited to a smallish geographical area.

Three times as many bus journeys are made compared to train journeys yet buses seem to be the poor relation. You hear of new railway stations being planned but with bus services you here mostly of cutbacks. This MP’s mentioned along with disability problems. Only Lord Judd hinted at the tourism implications in his role as vice president of the Campaign for National Parks. Wanting everyone to visit national parks he saw buses as a way of reducing car traffic, something that has spiralled in the US were long traffic jams getting to their parks can occur. Even here you get lengthy jams in popular spots.

He talked of partnership between bodies like the National Trust but the question remains: why are buses not treated by their merits and marketing applied to them as it is to trains and even planes given their importance to tourism?

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