This week we see significant announcements from government on the future of public transport. On a personal level the proposed changes to the railways cannot come soon enough. Interestingly they are based on the original TfL road transport model, currently used for the DLR and Overground services.
Of more interest to us is the publication of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) by the DfT. A mixture of carrot and stick, the aim of the policy is to get Local Authorities and Bus Operators to cooperate on the provision of services. One of the main criticisms of previous policies is they have been focused on London and other cities. Hopefully, this will no longer be the case, as suburban and rural services have suffered and declined as a result. Bus and coach registration figures for the first quarter show illustrate the challenge, with the number of new vehicles dropping -58.5% in the first three months of the year.
The timeframe is, quite rightly, tight. This will pose challenges for some authorities and operators. However, we need to address the decline in ridership, address social exclusion, plan for future mobility needs and ensure the whole industry has a long-term future, and we can’t afford to waste any time doing so.