Number of bus journeys down 300 million in five years

Support us and go ad-free

The annual number of bus journeys being taken in England has fallen by more than 300 million in five years, figures show.

Analysis of Department for Transport figures by the Local Government Association (LGA) – which represents councils – showed 4.31bn journeys were made in 2018/19, compared with 4.63bn in 2014/15.

The LGA commissioned a survey of 1,105 people from England, which suggested that 69% of residents think councils should be the main decision-makers on bus services.

The organisation believes giving councils oversight of local bus services would enable them to maintain and improve them, as well as protect routes so older and vulnerable people “don’t get left behind”.

Earlier this year, it warned that nearly half of routes are at risk of being scrapped due to a lack of funding.

In April, Labour stated it would invest £1.3bn per year “to reverse cuts made to 3,000 bus routes by the Tories since 2010 and to fund the expansion of new bus services”. Jeremy Corbyn said:

Bus services have been devastated by nine years of austerity. Thousands of routes have been axed, fares have soared and passenger numbers are in freefall.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Reinstating bus services across the country will provide a lifeline to many people, particularly the elderly, the vulnerable and people living in rural areas who have been totally cut off as a result of their bus services disappearing.

The group claimed that councils are filling a £652m gap between government funding for the free bus pass scheme and how much it costs.

Free bus passes for off-peak travel are a legal entitlement for people aged over 65, or those with a disability.

But budgetary constraints mean councils are spending less on discretionary items such as free peak travel, post-school transport and supported rural services.

LGA transport spokesman David Renard said:

Councils want to protect local bus services, which are a vital service and can be a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents, whether that is to go shopping, collect medication, attend doctor appointments or socialise with friends.

The continuing decline in bus journeys emphasises the need to protect bus services and for councils to be able to invest in funding subsidised routes.

Renard continued:

Not only will this make sure we can provide bus services to those who rely on them, but it can also help to reduce congestion and improve air quality by reducing the number of vehicles on our roads.

As our polling also shows, the vast majority of residents want to see councils take control over how bus routes operate in their local area.

With proper funding and by giving all councils oversight through automatic franchising powers, councils will be better placed to boost ailing passenger numbers and enable more people to use the bus services they rely on every day.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us