The passengers now departing..
Back in February 2020, the Conservative government announced measures to boost investment in bus networks across the UK. I was inspired to look at what has been happening to bus usage over the past few years, and particularly through the period of austerity. During this time, the financial pressure on local authorities has led to a reduction in the level of support for bus services leading to inevitable network cuts.
The following map shows the change in bus use per head of population across England from 2009/10 to 2018/19.
The picture is one of general decline, in many cases sizeable. The dark blue shaded authorities indicate those where bus patronage has dropped by more than 25%. Even in Greater London, which had for many years bucked the UK-wide trend of declining bus use, saw a fall of more than 10% in average bus use.
The exceptions can be seen in the Thames Valley around Reading, the West Country around Bristol and the former Avon authorities and in places like Brighton & Hove, Luton/Bedfordshire. Small growth is also evident in place such as Cornwall, West Sussex, Torbay and Bournemouth/Poole.