Chicken and egg

By | Category: Travel news

The Campaign for Better Transport says that over 3,000 bus routes have disappeared over the last ten years. Its report only covers England although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also problems not least in rural areas.

London and big cities may have buses but in rural areas they can be rarer than tractors!

Why is Just about Travel concerned?

Because buses are a significant means by which visitors get the opportunity to visit places that are inaccessible by trains. In addition, by moving more of us in one vehicle than in many they lower congestion and cut down on exhaust emissions.

The problem appears to be that the general public doesn’t like them.

This is not dis similar to the crisis on the rail network in the early nineteen sixties when many train routes were losing money hand over fist. What happened? Dr Beeching cut swathes through the rail network and it took decades for trains to become appealing to the public.

Will buses go the same way?

In the Borders of Scotland the only way to travel from England into the region is by bus. Double deckers ply routes from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Melrose and Kelso bringing in tourists but are they full? Is the car the immediate choice of visitors?

Travelling from South Wales up towards North Wales and you would need more than one bus at certain times of the day. But everyone complains about the links between north and south.

Even in home counties like Surrey, catching a bus from somewhere like Dorking or Leatherhead leads you to very few places. There are insufficient connections to appeal to the visitor.

Whilst the concept of Plusbus is attractive for day trippers for explorers during the week or ten day break, the slowness of the buses and their meandering routes can make a car journey the only sensible option.

How is this resolved? Should it be resolved? Will buses just become the conveyors of schoolkids and pensioners?

Spending on the bus network has dropped by about £400 million so people stay away. As people stay away, councils and governments cut services. How do you break this chicken and egg situation? The Campaign has no answer other to say more should be invested and controls put in place to dissuade people from using the car.

The only solution is to make people want to use buses and that probably means more buses, more offers, route-through tickets across all bus providers as the train companies offer and better facilities on buses.

That takes money. That requires someone to break the mould and gamble that what is done lures passengers back.

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