National bus strategy for England - a bus revolution is coming

Rupert Cox
Managing Director | Stagecoach West
16th March 2021

I am very excited about the national bus strategy that has been announced this week. It is a strong commitment by the government, and the Prime Minister himself, reflecting the importance of buses and the crucial role they will play in the country’s recovery from COVID-19.

One key part of this strategy is the government’s commitment to invest in new green technology to accelerate the shift to ultra-low and zero emission vehicles which builds on the major investment Stagecoach has made in this area over the past decade.

The biggest potential of buses to reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality comes from encouraging motorists to switch from the car.

The new bus strategy provides an opportunity for all partners – bus operators, national government and local authorities - to work together to harness the huge potential of the bus to help tackle climate change, deliver better air quality in our towns and cities, secure improved mobility for local people and support a sustainable economic recovery for the country. 

There are some huge commitments in the new bus strategy and a real focus on delivering a vision for a fundamentally better public transport network. This provides us with some great opportunities to build further on the successful partnership working with local and national government that we have seen during the pandemic, and to maximise the future potential of buses.

I am a strong passionate advocate for buses as I know that they play a critical role in enabling people to get to access work, education, skills, retail, health and other public services, and bring friends and families together. My kids are still at an age where the bus journey is still just as exciting as the destination, especially if we can get those great seats at the front upstairs!

Across the region, Stagecoach has a great track record of investment, improved service quality and strong passenger satisfaction as a result of innovation and a focus on customer service. However, the potential of buses has remained unfulfilled due to a failure to seriously tackle car use, resulting in slower services and higher operational costs.

The opportunity is immense; If all partners use the national bus strategy their joint resources to work together to deliver practical improvements and are not side-tracked by structures, there is a major opportunity to reverse a cycle of declining national bus use and maximise the potential of buses to help the country build back better. Strong partnership working between bus operators, national government and local transport authorities is fundamental to transforming the country's bus networks, making services faster and more affordable, and reducing unnecessary car journeys.

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