Greener Journeys, the sustainable transport campaigners, is urging the Government to invest £2 billion in bus networks and to actively encourage use of public transport from August 1.
Research by KPMG commissioned by Greener Journeys said the £2bn of investment in England would generate 425 million new bus journeys per year outside London and every £1 of the investment would deliver £4.48 of wider benefits to society.
Prior to Covid-19, the bus was one of the main modes of access to city centres, responsible for a third of city centre expenditure. Bus commuters were generating £64bn in goods and services every year.
KPMG’s research estimates that all local authority areas in England outside of London could expect to see at least a 20% increase in patronage.
From August 1 employers will be able to decide when their employees can go back to work in the office and the Government is relaxing its guidance on avoiding public transport.
However, Greener Journeys is calling on Government to be more positive in its messaging and to actively encourage the responsible use of public transport.
KPMG said bus patronage is currently at a third of pre-crisis levels, as more people are choosing to drive instead of taking public transport.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: “The Prime Minister may have dropped the 'avoid public transport' message, but he is still encouraging people to use alternative means of transport wherever possible.
“This won’t be enough to restart the economy. The fundamental role of mass transit in facilitating economic activity is as essential today as it ever was.
“We need a green recovery and that will require a massive shift from private transport to public, shared and active travel.
“The forthcoming national bus strategy must maximise the potential of the bus to tackle pollution, reduce social deprivation and reignite the economy.”