The Bus Back Better: national bus strategy for England, which the Government published in March, has been met with delight and concern in equal measure.
James Gleave, director, Mobility Lab UK, says: “The national bus strategy is very welcome, it’s an extremely positive message that is basically saying that the Government is supporting buses. The main concern is the timescale. Future funding is conditional on areas having at least an enhanced partnership (EP – see below) in place, and in place quickly. Even with Government support it’s an extremely ambitious timescale.”
His view is echoed across the industry. There’s excitement that, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, buses have been thrust into the spotlight. The ambition to create a much simpler, more convenient, intuitive and widespread network for passengers is generally applauded. But this is set against worry that rapid change is being demanded with insufficient resources – with areas that are already largely functional able to improve vastly while underperforming areas find the learning curve too steep, the targets unattainable and will end up in disarray.
Jonathan Hampson at Via, which supplies technology enabling flexible on-demand buses, has experienced this directly already.