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Built Environment Committee

Corrected oral evidence: Public transport in towns and cities

Tuesday 22 March 2022

10 am


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Members present: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (The Chair); Baroness Bakewell; Lord Best; Lord Carrington of Fulham; Baroness Cohen of Pimlico; Lord Grocott; Lord Haselhurst; The Earl of Lytton; Lord Moylan; Lord Stunell; Baroness Thornhill.

Evidence Session No. 6              Heard in Public              Questions 64 - 79



I: James Freeman, Former Managing Director, First West of England, and Chair, Bus Rapid Transit UK; Professor Peter White, Emeritus Professor of Public Transport Systems, University of Westminster.






Examination of witnesses

James Freeman and Professor Peter White.

Q64            The Chair: Welcome to the House of Lords Built Environment Committee’s public evidence session in our inquiry into public transport in towns and cities. Our inquiry is considering the impact of technological and digital developments on travel, future trends in public transport innovation and how public policy, including on traditional forms of transport such as buses, may be shaped in the light of those trends. We are very interested in connectivity across modes and better integration through innovation. We will be making recommendations to the Government later this year. This is our second session focusing on the important issue of buses.

Our witnesses this morning are James Freeman, former managing director of First West of England and chair of Bus Rapid Transit UK, and Professor Peter White, emeritus professor of public transport systems at the University of Westminster. You are most welcome. The session is being broadcast on A full transcript is being taken and will be made available to you in case you have any comments.

Can Members and witnesses please keep their questions and answers brief, as we have a lot of questions to cover this morning? I will put the first question to Professor White, starting with a longer-term view. Do you think that the use of bus services is likely to grow, stay the same or shrink? Is that limited to customer needs or the funding model, or both? We were concerned to note that the bus fund of £3 billion made available by the Government had been reduced to £1.4 billion, so we will start with this wider question before going into some of the detail of transport systems.

Professor Peter White: In the short run, of course, trends have been dominated by the impact of Covid, which has affected public transport use in general, although bus use has recovered more strongly than rail to about 75% of pre-Covid levels at the time of speaking.

Within that, we have a stronger recovery among adult passengers of working age but a lower recovery among older people, despite the fact that they enjoy free concessionary travel. Some of the effects of Covid highlight some underlying trends that existed earlier, such as the potential for home teleworking. However, that tends to hit rail use more strongly than bus use because, first, about half of all rail trips are journeys to work, compared with only 20% or so of bus trips and, secondly, rail commuters tend to be more affluent, office-based commuters who can more regularly substitute teleworking at home for travel to the office.

In the longer run, there is some scope for further recovery. It depends in part on how secure people feel about travelling by bus. We can also see potential markets among younger people in particular, who in recent years have displayed a more positive trend in bus use than older people. They tend to have lower car ownership and driver licence holding than the equivalent age cohorts 20 or 30 years ago.

We also see evidence that, where high-quality services are being provided, for example with park and ride, extensive bus priority and so on, buses can attract those with cars available, which is not the case where we cannot offer such a high level of service.

Obviously, the level of funding available is important, particularly in sustaining services during this period of recovery from Covid and, subsequently, in terms of how many of the schemes put forward in bus service improvement plans will actually be funded. A very wide range of schemes are being put forward but they are greatly in excess of the likely funds available.

I would add that a couple of years ago I was involved in a study for the Independent Transport Commission analysing trends in bus use in much more detail, which the committee can access through its website[1].

Q65            The Chair: That is very helpful. As a follow-up question, you mentioned concessions, which we have not yet looked at properly in our study. I think they are about a third of bus revenue.

Professor Peter White: Yes.

The Chair: Are they completely essential to the viability of the bus industry?

Professor Peter White: They are about a third of all passengers but not a third of all operator income, because the level at which that travel is compensated is substantially lower than the full adult fare that might otherwise be paid. That reflects the trip generation as a result of free travel. At off-peak times before Covid, it could clearly have been a lot more than a third of total passengers. The basis of concessionary travel compensation is quite critical in total operator business income.

In recent years, the cohorts of people coming into that age group have tended to have higher car ownership and driver licence holding than the equivalent people when the free concession was introduced in England in 2006, so there was some decline in that market prior to Covid impacts.

The Chair: Mr Freeman, would you like to come in on this longer-term question?

James Freeman: We need to look back before Covid to understand what it has done. People tend to think that the bus industry has been in decline for a very long time. Most people know about London as an exception to that, although even London has had a wobble recently.

Actually, my experience has been in places where the opposite has been the case and where continuing growth has been the trend. I have been working in Oxford, Reading and, most recently, Bristol, where we saw year-on-year passenger growth of up to 10% until there was a sharp stop with Covid. That was the effect of good-quality working between the operators and the local authorities. There is a very interesting message behind that, in my view. While in many parts of the country there has been an ongoing, gradual decline, driven by car use and change in population—all kinds of features—that is not inevitable.

That is important when we look at the Covid situation. Obviously, our demand fell off a cliff. It is recovering, although in some areas not quite to the 75% that Peter mentioned. It is a bit variable. It tends to be better in urban areas than in rural ones, and the inter-urban market, particularly in areas I am familiar with, has suffered extremely badly and not yet rebounded.

That is inevitable, is it not? When you change people’s habits, as we have all had to deal with, it takes a very long time to relearn the old ways. An example often used to me goes right back to the 1958 bus strike in London. There were no buses in London for seven or eight weeks. It took 35 years to build the traffic back after that. That is a message we need to be aware of.

As regards where we are now, I believe we will see continuing growth back. I do not think we will get to 100% easily, let alone more than that, although that would be lovely. Some sectors are particularly badly affected. Think of the messages that the Government were producing two years ago: “Don’t travel on public transport. Don’t use public transport”. The incipient message was that it was not really safe. That has gone home to roost with an awful lot of people, and they are not inclined to try anything different. That explains why motor car congestion has increased dramatically in some parts around retail centres in the middle of the day and at all kinds of odd periods. This is quite an issue.

The other sector is older people; in my experience, they are very much less likely to come back quickly. They have learned different ways, so the concessionary market is pretty tricky. Never mind the revenue side of it; that is an issue.

I have one last comment, resulting from the fact that, since I retired, I have taken up bus driving two days a week. It is the first time that I have ever been paid to drive a bus, despite having had a licence for over 40 years. I work in Winchester, where I now live, and it is very interesting to see that on the inter-urban network the services carry young people, old people and almost nobody in between. The bit in the middle has disappeared and will be really difficult to build back, but I am optimistic that we can get those people back. We simply have to start selling the prospect of public transport all over again by saying that it is reliable, good value and all the usual things—and does what people want.

Q66            Lord Grocott: Thank you very much for that. What an interesting witness, to have actually driven the buses as well.

I would like some clarity on two areas. The first is accountability. If I have a rotten bus service in my area, who do I blame? Who do I go to? Who is responsible for delivering a decent bus service? It seems to me a bit of a dog’s breakfast, depending massively on which part of the country you live in and what priority the Government have given to different parts of the country at different times. Accountability is pretty critical in the provision of a service, whether it is a public service or a private one—knowing who is in charge and who can put things right.

The other question is about finance. For example, I know that I could get a fairly clear idea, probably from a government Minister, of the proportion of the cost of running the railways that should be paid, first, by the taxpayer and, secondly, by the farepayer. I have no picture of that spread at all for bus services.

First, as a matter of fact, can you give us any information about the relative proportion of those two sources of income? Secondly, can you offer a view on whether the present distribution is a good one or a bad one, or even on how we compare with other countries?

Professor Peter White: As to the public funding for bus services, annual statistics are published by the Department for Transport that indicate the various contributions: the revenue received directly from passengers, the compensation for concessionary travel, the bus service operators grant and specific payments for tendered services. That is there on the record, although it will not necessarily be readily available for a named company.

Lord Grocott: Is it a global picture?

Professor Peter White: It is divided by English regions. The data are down to county level on some variables. That is quite well documented. Generally speaking, when we include the infrastructure costs for rail, buses cover a much higher proportion of their costs than the rail system does.

Lord Grocott: The infrastructure costs—

Professor Peter White: If we are making a like-for-like comparison of the public funding for bus and rail, we need to look at the money given to Network Rail, which is a very large grant each year.

Lord Grocott: But the railway has to provide the whole of its infrastructure: the fencing along the line, the signalsthe lot.

Professor Peter White: Yes.

Lord Grocott: Presumably, a bus service running on municipal roads does not have to pay for all the roads, the traffic lights and the roundabouts.

Professor Peter White: It bears a share of the costs, along with other road traffic. The bus service operators grant offsets quite a lot of that cost in fuel duty, which could otherwise be seen as covering road infrastructure costs. That is shown as an explicit payment to the bus industry in the published tables.

Broadly speaking, before Covid, bus operators were covering something like 65% of costs from direct passenger revenue. Bear in mind that the concessionary fare compensation is a payment on behalf of passengers who would otherwise be paying a fare, so it is not a subsidy to the industry as such. The picture there is fairly clear.

The immediate responsibility for a bus service is with the operator to run the service that it has registered with the traffic commissioner, who can take action if it is not doing so within acceptable boundaries—for example, that 95% of journeys are not more than one minute early or five minutes late. However, the ability of the bus operator to do that will be influenced by efficient management of road space and affected by traffic congestion. Some of that, but not all of it, is under the operator’s control. You also have to look at the role of local authorities, in their role as highway authorities, as affecting the quality of service that can be provided. 

James Freeman: The perception from the operators’ point of view is that because of deregulation, which has been with us for 30-something years, the main services that they operate will, subject to the bus service operators grant, concessionary fares and so on, cover their costs directly out of what people pay in the way of fares. That gives you a two-type layout in which the preponderance of the market is directly funded by farepayers and the rest is the services that cannot be funded in that waywhere the operator cannot make ends meet, as it does not have enough revenue to pay the costs. Those services are provided under tender to local authorities. That provides a real patchwork quilt across the country because different local authorities have wildly different approaches to this. They have less money or more money; they do or do not want to do it; there are any number of issues.

Directly on the operating situation, if people asked me as an operator, “Who is responsible for the network?”, I would say, “We are responsible for my company’s network. Come to us”. Obviously, the traffic commissioner polices it. However, the network as a whole—in other words, whether a bus runs up this road or that road—is the responsibility of the local authority, which effectively owns the issue of who gets transport to where. That is a very important thing. If people come to me as an operator and ask, “Are you in charge of this?”, I say, “Yes, I am in charge of the bit I am in charge of, but I am not in charge of the whole network”. To me, that is quite a defect in the current set-up. It can create all kinds of fissures through which people’s needs fall. That is really important.

The other thing is that the whole success of public transport on the highway is completely dependent on free-flowing roads. Again, that hits differently in different parts of the country. Different authorities have wholly different approaches to this. Some will look to provide public transport priority and do it very well. Many others will ignore the problem completely and just say, “You’re a commercial operator. Do what you can. If you can’t, so be it”. That is the width of the spectrum. That is where we are on accountability.

Going on to finance, in principle, the expectation is that operators will cover their funds out of what they can raise through a combination of, mainly, cashhowever that money comes to youand the various different available grants which are paid through at different levels. The Bus Service Operators Grant comes through in one way. Sometimes there is assistance for the purchase of vehicles, depending on which scheme happens to be relevant.

There are also concessionary fares, of course. As Peter said, concessionary fares are not a licence to print money from an operator’s point of view because the payment terms are, basically, what can be negotiated. They are a proportion of the amount that you would receive as an operator for the journey that somebody makes. Taking into account the issue of generation, there is also the fact that there is not enough money to fund these schemes in all cases, so the payments are even less than that.

Overall, the operator needs to raise money from fares. Fares are deregulated, so it will do what it can to do that. Obviously, the judgment on fares is about what the market will bear.

Q67            Lord Grocott: One of the main problems in the effectiveness of particular bus services, as you have described, is the condition on the roads and whether they are on time. In your mind, does that affect at all the balance of the argument between buses on the one hand and various rail forms of communication on the other? Of course, a railway does not have to worry about traffic. It has its own route. It can have a two-minute headway and guarantee that, in most cases, it will meet the timing requirements.

James Freeman: You are right. The right of way is what makes the difference on reliability. The impact of other traffic makes all the difference. It is quite possible for a rail-based vehicle to be impacted by traffic; Fleetwood High Street has a tram that shares the roadway with ordinary traffic, so it does not necessarily follow. Equally, you can provide a very high level of priority to ordinary buses simply by highway engineering. Often that is cheaper than a rail-based solution, which is the gold-plated answer.

The Chair: I am going to bring in Lord Moylan and then Lord Best. We need to try to keep the answers a bit shorter. Although they are fascinating, we are not going to get through.

Q68            Lord Moylan: I am fascinated by the question of negotiating concessionary travel compensation. I am very familiar with how that is done in London boroughs. Outside London, with whom are you negotiating?

James Freeman: With each district. Sometimes they club together into little groups.

Lord Moylan: You are negotiating on a national scheme.

James Freeman: Yes. The national scheme tells us what has to be done—we have to carry these people for free at the times stipulated. The payments are based on a national arrangement but are the subject of local negotiation. A big bus company can have 30 or 40 different negotiations.

Lord Moylan: I do not understand why that should be, since it is a national scheme. That is something we might look into.

The second question is this: is the national bus travel scheme for the elderly and disabled the only scheme that you recognise? In London, we have a whole load of discretionary, non-statutory concessions as well, created by various mayors over the years.

Professor Peter White: I can come in on that point. London is unique, first, in the very generous free travel for schoolchildren, which adds considerably to peak demand.

Lord Moylan: It is a discretionary concession.

Professor Peter White: Yes. Likewise, it offers the adult concession from the age of 60 rather than the gradually increasing retirement age of 66, which applies elsewhere.

It is also worth bearing in mind that Wales and Scotland tend to have a more standardised system. There is a common reimbursement over the whole of Wales rather than it being negotiated separately with each local authority. Obviously, that makes it easier for operators to know where they stand.

Lord Moylan: Okay, but the only scheme that you normally encounter is the statutory scheme.

James Freeman: Yes, with whatever the authorities might wish to add to it. Commonly, they will pay, or try to pay, for half an hour extra free travel at 9 am, rather than a 9.30 start, for example.

Lord Moylan: I see. Thank you very much. We may well want to look into that further.

Q69            Lord Best: My question is about the sticks rather than the carrotsthe carrots being the subsidies and grants. What about the measures that make it more difficult to use your car and more or less force you to switch because of congestion charges and congestion zones? In Nottingham, we saw workplace parking levies. To what extent will those measures drive more passengers on to the buses?

Professor Peter White: They are potentially very important. If the cost of travel by car is reflected realistically in charges, through road-user charging, particularly to reflect the impact of congestion, and charging realistically for parking places, that will have a large effect on the relative perceived cost of bus and car travel.

Lord Best: Are there signs that there will be a shift in that direction? Are we going to see more of that, or will there be more reliance simply on the subsidy side?

Professor Peter White: Some areas are looking at a workplace parking levy, following the Nottingham model. Ideally, one might move to more widespread systems of road-user charging, as we have in a rather crude form in London, to deter car travel at congested times of day.

James Freeman: This is exceptionally difficult for local politicians. There is often a gulf between what national government says would be a good idea and what local politicians are willing to put their heads on the block to make happen. Bus priority, workplace charging and all these things are wonderful ways of getting re-elected—or perhaps not—or they are perceived in that way. I am not a politician, but from my point of view it is the brave ones who stand out and say, “Come on, we have to do this because we can’t carry on doing what we’re doing”.

Generally speaking, it is exceptionally difficult. Just removing a line of parking in front of some shops on an arterial route can be a massive problem for politicians. In the end, they often step back when it becomes too difficult for them.

Q70            Baroness Bakewell: I am very keen on buses and want to see them thrive. I think that there would be a great future if more people used them, but can we go back and start from scratch? If we were inventing a bus system today, what would make it appeal more than it does at the moment? Should we have smaller buses? Should we have more bus stops? We cannot affect the roads. I am talking about the actual service. I am one of the old people. I am a concessioned; I have a free pass. What do you think would make that middle group more inclined to use buses?

James Freeman: Frequency, convenience and taking people where they want to be.

Baroness Bakewell: More bus stops.

James Freeman: Perhaps. There could be better-located town-centre and city-centre bus stops. It has been a trend over the past years for bus passengers to be pushed to the edge of city and town centres, rather than to be taken into the middle of them. That has been very disruptive to traffic patterns because how people walk about the town or negotiate their destination is really important. There has been a trend to exclude buses and put them on the edge. It is really important to try to counteract that.

Buses are very flexible. You can run them at any time and in any place, if you have a road, a bus and a driver. When you have decided your service, the biggest problem in the whole thing is reliability. When I say that I am going to turn up, I have to come. That is what we as an industry find increasingly challenging to deliver.

Professor Peter White: I would be wary of adding more bus stops because then you slow the bus down for the other passengers. The optimal spacing is probably roughly the spacing that we have. What you can do in some cases is make the walk to and from the bus stop easier, with better street lighting and direct pathways. If someone is using a bus, often they have to cross the road to access it in one direction or the other. Is there a safe crossing point near the bus stop? Some quite basic things such as that make the walk stage of the journey easier from the user’s point of view. One of my research colleagues at Westminster looked at that in some detail a few years ago and found that it was quite an important issue from the user’s perspective[2].

Baroness Bakewell: What is stopping those things coming about?

Professor Peter White: It would be for local authorities to look at access to bus stops, particularly the location of pedestrian crossings and appropriate pedestrian routes to and from the stops. It would be their responsibility rather than that of the operator to deal with that issue.

Baroness Bakewell: They do not care enough.

Professor Peter White: I do not think that there is enough awareness of that point. I would also echo very strongly what James said about bus access in town centres. In many cases, that has worsened in recent years.

Q71            Baroness Cohen of Pimlico: I have had the opportunity to talk to so few people who have driven a bus. I cannot manage buses because I am arthritic. I need a bunk-up or a helping hand, or I cannot get on them. Bus drivers usually provide that. Does this make a lot of difference? I always find that a person on public transport makes a difference.

James Freeman: It is absolutely right that what the bus driver does makes a big impact on the feeling of the traveller. There is no question about that. There has been one revolution in the arrival of the low-floor bus and the kneeling bus, and the local authorities that have put in pavements that allow bus and pavement to be aligned. The buses I was driving yesterday did just that. You could come right in beside and a wheelchair could roll across without using a ramp. It is perfectly possible nowadays, if the infrastructure is in place, the parking is controlled so that the bus can actually get to the stop and the highway engineers were sensible enough to position the bay so that the bus can get in and out.

There is the much bigger problem that highway engineers tend to have very little awareness of buses and no experience of operating them, and they do not really take some of these things into account. The fragmented nature of local authorities tends to mean that they have very small public transport functions, which have become much smaller with reducing budgets, and their knowledge and understanding of how buses operate have dwindled very dramatically over my working life.

Baroness Bakewell: The culture of a bus and a bus journey is very often determined by the driver, and the mood of the driver governs the feelings of the passengers. I notice that there is a huge shortage of drivers. Young boys or girls—heavens, I must not make the distinction—do not seem to want to be bus drivers any more. Why can we not capitalise on making a bus journey a pleasant event rather than something we just have to do? Its a shame that we cannot do that.

James Freeman: We can, and it is being done in various parts of the country, but it is not a common experience. That is very much down to the determination of individual managers to think about the people who work in their businesses. Managers of bus companies need to think about this very carefully. Being a bus driver is not necessarily a task that everyone feels they want to do; I have spent my career trying to make bus drivers realise that they are doing something really worthwhile in the community and they should feel good about it. Most bus drivers feel that they are the victims of the passengers, their employers, the local authorities and all the motorists around them, and they do not feel the empowerment that gives them the ability to smile sweetly at customers and go the extra mile. That is a very fundamental problem. If you look across the industry—

Baroness Bakewell: What is the answer?

James Freeman: A complete reversal in the way that we look at buses and how important they are in the mix. From the point of view of modal share they are very important, but they are not thought about very much. It is very good that you are thinking about them today, but often they are a side note somewhere. This weapon we have, the bus network, is still powerful and we could use it, but it needs money, effort and resource to make it happen.

The Chair: Should we have bus heroes and introduce honours for bus drivers as we have for schoolteachers?

James Freeman: Why not?

The Earl of Lytton: Following on from that, it is very interesting that you refer to the number of different players and factors that give rise to the bus network being more convenient and more rewarding. We heard when we spoke to the people in Nottingham that their tram had displaced, as far as I could understand it, a certain amount of road users, and that road users would take to a tram in a way that they would not take to a bus. What is it about this failure of imagination that makes a bus intrinsically less attractive, presumably as a means of conveyance, compared with, say, a tram or other things? Following on from what Baroness Bakewell and Baroness Cohen have said, how will we make that experience within the conveyance more satisfactory?

Professor Peter White: Taking the case of Nottingham, for example, it also has a very high per capita bus use. I understand from a talk by the managing director of the bus operator that it has a very substantial share of bus users on some corridors with cars available for that journey. It is not a feature unique to trams.

For example, in the busway in Cambridgeshire, about a quarter of the passengers were diverted directly from car to the busway service after it was introduced, making use of large park-and-ride sites. This is borne out in direct surveys of bus users. Even people with free parking in the centre of Cambridge switched to bus use for convenience. In the right circumstances I think you can match that perception, even though buses as a whole tend to have perhaps not quite as strongly perceived service quality as rail.

James Freeman: If you spend a great deal of money on a piece of infrastructure and have very fine vehicles, that gives an aura straightaway, and the tram has that to its benefit. There is no doubt that the swooshing tram sweeping through the centre of Nottingham, Edinburgh or Manchester makes a statement in itself and people want to be part of that.

My experience generally is that people want to be part of the winning team. If your bus service is part of the winning team, you are on to something. Go to Brighton, for example, where for years and years the local authority and the bus company have worked together to drive up the attractiveness of the service, making it easier for the bus operator to provide a reliable service and the bus company to continue to enhance its frequency, its span of the day and its threads across the city. That is a very good example—and there are quite a number of them around the country, such as Reading—where this is being done exceptionally well.

But you are right. It is about how you create a sense of, “This is something special and I want to be part of it”, both from the supply side and the operator side, and from the user side: “I made a good decision today. I’m riding on public transport”. When people say that I am winning.

The Earl of Lytton: That is very interesting.

Q72            Baroness Cohen of Pimlico: There is a compromise, of course, between a tram, which has a monster capital cost, and a bus, which is called one or other of the light rail systems. Is there any great advantage to having a bus rapid transit system? I am trying to get at the difference between a bus rapid transit system, which I kind of know about, and light rail systems in particular. I have not seen very many of those, although we do have the dreaded Cambridge busway.

James Freeman: That is a busway, of course. The thing about tram-based rapid transit is that you cannot have half measures. You cannot go half way and then just wander off and do your own thing. You have to have the track for the whole distance. That implies an enormous cost because you have to have everything for the whole route. If you are going to operate it so far, you have to have that route. Edinburgh found it very difficult to develop its network and is gradually doing it now; ditto for Birmingham.

With bus rapid transit you can replicate some of the benefits of the priority route. You can do it more cheaply, and you do not have to do it necessarily across the whole length of the route. For example, in the outer areas of a city you might well want several routes. You might want a fantail of several different routes that come together into a common core to run into the city centre. You can spend your money on the infrastructure on that part of the route and let the buses do their own thing in the wilds.

What happens is that BRT—Bus Rapid Transit—is often a step towards tramway. It is the first stage, but you have to do it. This is the key. We are not good at this in Britain. You have to bite the bullet and say that you must have priority on the section where you want it, all the time every day, and you get back to the tram benefit in that way.

The reason why there are not many tram schemes in Britain is that they are colossally expensive to put in and take a very long time to plan. Therefore, only a few have made it through. Bus Rapid Transit offers the opportunity to do something that does not cost quite so much but can do quite a lot of the same things.

If you want examples of these, go to France. France is fantastic at having both tramways, which it started developing in the mid-1980s, and all kinds of different ways of bus rapid transit. There are about 15 different systems. They call it transport of higher quality. In some places these are interlaced with tramways, and they are very effective ways of getting quickly to a splendid system that people feel proud of and that runs reliably day in, day out, without spending the enormous amounts of money and time you have to do to get the tramway to work.

Professor Peter White: I would like to reinforce the importance of offering through services. One danger with forcing buses to become feeders to rail services is that you impose interchange on the passengers, which they find very inconvenient.

Baroness Cohen of Pimlico: I see.

The Chair: Lord Stunell, do you want to come in on this?

Q73            Lord Stunell: I have some experience of the Runcorn busway in the north-west. It has been running for a very long time. I do not know if there is any evaluation of how successful it has been and continues to be—or not, as the case may be. That seems to be a circumstance where bus rapid transit has worked well, but you may want to give some feedback on that. What are the preconditions for getting a successful bus rapid transit system in place?

James Freeman: There has to be a good service. It is all about what the user experiences. There have to be very good stationsbearing in mind Peter’s point about how you get to them, how safe you feel when you are there, and all those sorts of thingsin the right place and which people can use, with a service that operates frequently and across the seven-day pattern. That is key to everything, and everything else follows behind that.

What you have can vary according to circumstances. The Runcorn busway, which is a roadway devoted to buses, is a remarkable survivor, having been built in 1970 or something like that. Its problem is that it is not an operating system. This is the difficulty with promoting these busways at the momentall operators can operate on them. Much greater co-ordination is needed so that the service provided is like a tram. That is, you know what you are going to get and you know what the brand is, the pricing, the frequency and all the rest of it.

The Runcorn busway is a very good example of how bus service delivery has been fragmented through deregulation and has never quite recovered. In its very early days, when it was all the Crosville part of the National Bus Company, it really prospered. Since then, it has been a very useful facility but I feel it has never come of age and has not really done justice to itself. It is therefore an example that people do not look to, and they should.

Professor Peter White: A couple of years ago I was involved in compiling a review of busways in Britain, and it was very hard to get good, consistent, reliable statistics, particularly on schemes such as Runcorn. However, where economic evaluations have been carried out—for example, on the Fastway service in the Crawley/Gatwick area and the South Hampshire scheme between Fareham and Gosport—they showed very good ridership figures and had a very good benefit-cost ratio using the existing economic evaluation criteria[3].

Lord Stunell: You talked about fragmentation making it more difficult. Do you mean that there are other bus providers in the area which are competing? What point are you are making?

James Freeman: You do not have the ability to control and say, “This is the Runcorn busway, and all the buses will charge you £1 to go from here to there. They’ll have this specification. They’ll run on this timetable”, or whatever, because the timetables and fares are deregulated and another operator can operate. That means it is not properly held together as a proposition for people, and it is always at risk of somebody competing with it, not necessarily on the busway itself but in some other way. That is the difficulty.

It is possible to do that. The mechanisms coming into force around Enhanced Partnerships and things such as this will make it much easier. The opposite of this is that I have been very critical in Bristol of the fact that the people who designed the rapid transit called metrobus would often do so without reference to the principal operators. Consequently, they build things that do not work and cannot be served. There are bits of infrastructure in Bristol under the metrobus scheme that are either not used at all for public transport or very minimally used because they are simply not fit for purpose. Nobody asked the operators.

You can see that there is a gulf between having deregulated bus services that are just running any old how, and local authorities that may or may not have the resources to pull all that together. You need these to be run as a single mind, if you like. It does not necessarily have to be a single body, but you need to have one principal guiding light to the whole thing to make sure that it all comes together and makes sense to the user at the end of the day.

Lord Stunell: Does the legislative framework to which we are now looking forward provide that environment? If not, what would you recommend should provide it?

James Freeman: I think it can do. It is certainly a development. We have to be wary when people talk about franchising because different people think about it differently. Franchising can be a very good way of doing things, as long as there is good feedback from the operator to the people making the decisions about how the network looks, when it operates, and all the rest of it. Although at one stage the operating business was very scared about franchising, it is much less scary than it was. From my point of view, if I can get a guaranteed payment for running a service to somebody else’s specification, I would much rather that than not make enough money out of running a deregulated operation. The world has changed and that is a good opportunity. The combinations of Enhanced Partnerships and franchised possibilities that are beginning to emerge gives some very useful forward motion in getting a grip on some of this.

Q74            Lord Haselhurst: To what extent do you think that government policy initiatives are having a beneficial effect? Is there anything in the national bus strategy and the proposals in the levelling-up White Paper which cheers your heart that the Government may be moving in the right direction?

We are faced with a variety of different schemes, policies and predictions from various bodies which kindly responded to our call for evidence; is there something that might actually apply more widely than a pet scheme that might be started in the West Midlands, Bath or Bristol, and so on? Is there no glimmer of something that might actually be saleable? If I may add, is not the answer in terms of cost, if one is putting in a system that is destined to last for a long time, that we have to have autonomous systems?

Professor Peter White: Various government policy statements contain a number of very positive statements, but it is a question of converting them into practical action. For example, the levelling-up White Paper talks about establishing schemes broadly equivalent to those in London for public transport, although not specifying that in detail. I suggest that that could mean, for example, much more comprehensive service coverage by time of day and day of week, which you can see in London. There are very good Sunday and late-evening services compared with quite thin services even in large cities elsewhere. Clearly, you would need adequate funding to do that.

In the case of autonomous vehicles, there has been a lot of very optimistic talk in the last few years that has perhaps not been wholly realistic. If we are moving towards autonomous road vehicles, clearly, that will give a greater advantage to buses because the largest single element of the running cost is the driver, which is about 40% of total costs. If automation reached a stage where you could replace the driver and run safely and reliably, that would have a dramatic impact. For example, it might mean you could start running minibuses more frequently than full-sized vehicles and attract people through the higher frequency at an acceptable cost, but we are probably quite a long way from that at the moment. Currently, we are only looking at reserved track systems for automated operation, which is now becoming quite common for a lot of urban rail operations. If the prospects for running driverless vehicles on ordinary public roads become a reality, that would have a great potential applied to bus operation.

Lord Haselhurst: For someone who has been a bus conductor, I would be dismayed at the idea that we should take away the thought of a happy relationship between the driver and passengers which a bus can provide.

Will not speed also be an important consideration, and safety and reliability, obviously? I notice that one or two authorities have brought out schemes for particular routes that they feel should be tried out as a model for other things.

Professor Peter White: Obviously, giving bus priority and busway infrastructure greatly helps improve service speed, and tends to improve reliability, because when you have low-speed operation under congested conditions you often get widely varying delays at major junctions, for example, so it translates into more reliable services in waiting time at the bus stop as well as the average speed of motion of the bus. It is important to evaluate all those projects as they are introduced, so we can learn from experience and apply it more widely elsewhere.

James Freeman: It is interesting that the very welcome focus on buses, particularly, and public transport generally from government has brought with it a message, which is that up to now it has been hoped that in general principles the bus industry would pay for itselfthe users would pay. In large measure, that has been the case under deregulation. Characteristically, we have been a country with very low support for public transport and quite a good network—in fact a very good network in many places—mainly paid for by the user, hence we have higher fares generally than other parts of Europe, which is often criticised but is none the less a fact.

Now we see an acceptance that that approach will not work in the future and that this is a cost to the public purse to some extent or a greater extent; it all depends. The focus that comes in with money is that there has always been money for capital things but never any for revenue. It is interesting to think about the extent to which we can support operations that go forward so as to justify the frequencies that will drive modal switch. They will cost money. There is no getting away from that; they will cost a lot of money, and I am not sure we have it

Lord Haselhurst: No, we have not.

James Freeman: Perhaps we will never have it. There are some quite interesting questions about how to do this most effectively and make the best use of what money we have to make progress with it.

We have to be careful about the idea that the answer is to create monolithic public transport corporations that are distant from the users. Equally, we need to be much more integrated in our thinking and much more controlled in making decisions and following them through.

Autonomous vehicles are a development coming forward all the time. The Stagecoach company has an autonomous bus service on its way in Scotland. Already, if you go to Paris, there is a depot that uses autonomous vehicle technology to park its fleet at night, which is an exceptionally good way of using that sort of mechanism. You would not believe how many bangs and crashes happen in depots at night, at the end of the day. That technology is some way away yet, but it certainly has a part to play.

Q75            Lord Carrington of Fulham: I am quite interested in what you are saying about mixed use of roads and other transport networks, because the Government have been trying to encourage, really quite aggressively at times in the way of virtue signalling, things such as cycle lanes against bus lanes. That must cause a problem for bus operators. How do you get that balance right? How do you persuade local authorities, which are under pressure from the Department for Transportand virtue signalling themselves—and saying, “Cycling is a good thing, and those old codgers who can’t cycle really shouldn’t be getting out of the house”, and things like that? How do you get that balance right?

James Freeman: It is certainly not right at the moment. There have been a number of circumstances across the UK where buses have found themselves pushed back into the general traffic and a lane created for bicycles. I am all in favour of cycling—I cycle myself—but that has worsened the bus operation, so your premise is correct. The difficulty is that, if you do not think about the whole offer, those sorts of things will happen. A lot of this is being driven by the availability of money. This is what people want to do now so that is what they do, and the buses can go hang. We have to do something different.

The difficulty is that the motor car is god. Whatever you do, you cannot constrain the motor car. That is what so many highway engineers and political leaders locally will say: “We just can’t afford to do that. We have to make use of what is left. One thing I can tell you is that bicycles and buses in the same lane are not good neighbours. That is bad for everybody. We have to find a way of doing it. It can be done if we look a little more at all the roads and decide that some will have to be public transport and bicycles only, and motorists will have to find a different way. That can be done, although it is a bit tricky.

Lord Carrington of Fulham: Clearly, that is the case if a motorist is a leisure motorist, or possibly even a commuting motorist, but if it is the lift repairman who is going to get the shop or the railway station working again, you have to balance between competing users of road space, all of whom are important.

James Freeman: You do. Perhaps in an urban environment you have to decide which bits will be priority for general users and which will be priority for public transport. Quite often, there is one way you can send the buses and bicycles and one way you can send the cars, and they effectively arrive in the same sort of place but go different ways. There just is not the highway space to put them all together in the nice way that you might do if you were starting to build Brasília.

We have to think more carefully about the bigger picturelook at an area and decide how we provide priority public transport from this bit to this bit effectively, and meet the needs of active transport, delivery vehicles and everybody else.

Professor Peter White: It is important to look at use of road space in terms of the total number of people being moved rather than the number of vehicles. This is an issue we have had for many years looking at bus priority versus car use. It also applies in the case of measuring cycle use. The number of people being moved, not the number of vehicles, is the important criterion. We have quite well-established economic evaluation criteria for comparing the effects on different types of road users to see whether a net benefit or cost is produced by a particular scheme.

Lord Carrington of Fulham: What you are saying, as I understand it, is that we should be persuading cyclists to get on buses.

James Freeman: Not necessarily, not at all. I think we should look in our highway planning at route planning to try to find ways to get everybody to where they want to go without competing with each other for the same bit of space. At the moment, to favour the cyclistbecause that is where the money and focus are—public buses have found themselves back in the queue. They are very poor at persuading people to travel if the service becomes unreliable and slow as a consequence. There are examples around the country where that has happened; it is a real step backwards. Often a bus lane has been lost as well, so it is a double whammy.

Lord Grocott: I would be very interested if we could have the kinds of comparison statistics that Professor White has referred to. Again, as a layman, it seems to me that a huge amount of public money has been spent on providing cycle lanes and associated traffic control measures, traffic lights and all the rest of it. This is purely anecdotal, but a bus full of people trying to get to work is slowed down because of a cycle lane that, comparatively speaking, is much less used. Are there any stats you can give us?

Professor Peter White: I could provide a note following that up with some examples of relative use of road space by cycles and buses. It is also worth adding that, particularly in the peak, cars tend to have a very low occupancy rate of about 1.2 people for the journey to work. That is probably the least efficient use of road space at those times.

Lord Grocott: Any information along those lines about the effect on time-keeping or idling of buses and the rest of it, when road space has been given to cycle lanes, will be helpful to us, I am sure.

Professor Peter White: I will dredge out what we have.

The Chair: Good and bad practice is extremely useful to us. I remember in LA that during the rush hour you cannot go in the fast lane unless you have more than two or three people in the car. People have done various different things.

Q76            The Earl of Lytton: You will both be aware that a recently revised edition of the Highway Code has been produced, which refers in particular to cyclists. You are supposed to give them a two-metre berth. I happen to live in an area that is reasonably frequented by cyclists, but the lane is only about four metres wide. It does not leave you a great deal of room if there is a cyclist and you are trying to avoid the potholes and have a car that is 1.8 metres wide, or whatever the standard width is. Clearly, this will be a particular issue if you are trying to manoeuvre a bus in a congested urban environment down the road.

I think, Mr Freeman, you referred to the possibility of segregation. Is that another failure of imagination? Do we need to say to people that we cannot give everybody indefeasible rights over this space and there have to be different routes for cyclists, as there have been certainly in places such as Holland, where they do not share the general public highway? Do you have any thoughts on that?

James Freeman: From an operating perspective of just running the buses, if you are forced to run behind cyclists, especially if they are going uphill, that is a real cause of delay and frustration and leads to interfaces that are less than optimal, if you like to put it that way. It is very important to find spaces that are defined for these operations. There is nothing more frustrating, as I have seen myself, than having a cycleway over here and a cyclist in the normal lane. I saw it on Westminster Bridge as I was walking over; I thought, “Why are you doing that, when all this is being done so that you can have a segregated place?”

We are a bit inclined to be soft in this area. The Highway Code tells you that there is a hierarchy of users, and the poor old bus driver is right at the bottom. “I drive the most dangerous vehicle. Therefore, I must be the most careful”. Fair enough; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it can mean that, where these things are not properly managed, it leads to unnecessary delay. It drives the necessity in areas of congestion of working out what you want on the highway, delivering it and then policing it.

Professor Peter White: It is worth bearing in mind that the changes in the Highway Code are mainly to try to reduce casualty rates among the more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, making conditions safer for pedestrians also improves access to the bus stop for the bus user. We have to look at the capacity issue, but some of those safety benefits could be indirectly useful in their own right.

Baroness Bakewell: It is worth remarking, though, in this battle between bus lanes and cycle lanes that cycle lanes are being promoted with great vigour because they are carbon neutral. They do not pollute the atmosphere and buses do. You are at a disadvantage in any argument that promotes the bus as opposed to the cycle lane, are you not?

James Freeman: There is another problem, which is that the cyclist is likely to be a much more eloquent proponent of their mode than the bus passenger. The bus passenger often does not have a voice or know how to gather themselves together to promote their particular interest. It has always fascinated me as an operator how we can drive public opinion among our own passengers to get them to say what worries and concerns them. It is very hard to do that. You will find that bus users are much less well organised than cyclists.

Baroness Bakewell: But the direction of history is against you because we are going towards a carbon-neutral destiny. In that sense, the argument for cycles will prevail.

Lord Moylan: There are electric buses. I do not follow that at all. There are carbon-neutral buses, increasingly so.

Professor Peter White: It is worth adding that emissions in the sense of those that are dangerous to health have been vastly reduced with enormous improvements in bus design, leading up to the Euro VI engine. Beyond that, as you have just said, we can move towards electric buses. If you are concerned about carbon emissions, it comes back again to the issue of bus versus car. Carbon emissions per car user might be the issue to focus on rather than bus compared to cycle.

The Chair: Bicycles are dangerous as well, particularly if you do not have total segregation. I know that from my children getting injured on bicycles.

Q77            Lord Moylan: May I come in with a question about safety? We always discuss road safety with the idea that a vehicle is going to hit or has hit a pedestrian or a cyclist, but it was certainly the case—I do not think the figures are terribly out of date—that the largest number of accidents occurring to people, women especially over the age of 60 presenting at hospitals in London, had occurred inside buses.

I come back to this difference in perception between the tram and the busway. I think you described the tram as “swooshingthrough the centre of the town. That sense of smoothness of movement is subliminally very attractive to the passenger, whereas a bus is constantly stopping and starting. Every time it stops and starts you are thrown about, especially if you are standing, and if you are at all frail you can lose your grip; and a lot of people are injured inside buses.

Somebody with great experience of the transport industry, who also drives a bus in his spare time, once said to me that the problem was caused by having too good brakes on modern buses and that the old Routemasters, where the brakes never properly worked, always went smoothly because they could only start slowly and you had to start braking a long way away from the stop so that you glided into it. Do you have any comments on what we can do to improve safety inside buses?

James Freeman: I would make a couple of points. To pick up on that last point, ironically, you are absolutely right. The modern bus has a series of different braking systems that come in as the driver puts their foot on the brake pedal. There are retarders, brakes and various things going on, which mean that the retardation is by no means smooth. It is very difficult to bring a modern vehicle to a stand using the brake without it lurching back and forward. It is an issue for manufacturers and one of my hobby horses.

Lord Moylan: It is all being pushed by engineers in the name of safety. You are right in terms of the bus hitting something else but, in fact, the consequences have simply shifted on to the passengers inside.

James Freeman: My sense has been that the manufacturers do not pay a huge amount of attention to the gentleness of retardation that is required. That has been an issue for a long time with modern vehicles. They have such complex braking systems that they do not lend themselves to smooth retardation.

That is an aside in a way. How to improve the environment for the bus passenger in the safety context is about the highway and the driver. A tram has rails that make it smooth anyway; there is no question of bumpy tramlines, although if you go to some places you can find them, but not in the UK. But in principle, that is smooth already. Road surfaces in the UK are very poor and getting worse. Bus lanes are often at the edge of the highway and go in and out of every drain cover, tree root and other things, which set up all these actions, but you can create a busway that is completely smooth. You can do that.

There is a need to assist in driver training to get better quality. It is possible to drive these buses very smoothly left and right with lateral movement, but in the hands of somebody who is not so careful you can throw people about a lot.

Professor Peter White: From research in which I was involved some years ago, it is certainly the case that older bus users have a higher casualty rate per million miles travelled, mainly because of the risk of being thrown in the vehicle[4]. It is worth saying that a bus occupant, on the whole, is still safer than a car occupant in terms of overall injury risk. The London Routemaster was by far the most dangerous type of bus because of the open rear platform layout, and that tended to overshadow some of these other safety issues.

It is also worth bearing in mind that many bus operators have installed devices to monitor drivers’ behaviour which encourage them to accelerate and brake less sharply, which also helps reduce fuel consumption.

The Chair: We are nearing the end of our session. I want to bring in Baroness Thornhill, who joins us remotely today.

Q78            Baroness Thornhill: There has been some absolutely fascinating, informative evidence from you both. Thank you very much.

As a former local authority mayor, I want to hone down on the role of local authorities, which have been quite rightly peppered through everything you said. I was really fascinated to hear you mention public opinion and politicians, because I still have the scars on my back. It is often not mentioned, so I thought that was interesting. With regard to funding, there will never be enough; we know that. I would like to hear your views on powers to local authorities, on local authority structures, and on what will actually encourage more local politicians to be bolder.

Professor Peter White: A lot of the powers already exist and it may be an issue of drawing together the various different local authority activities. The other underlying issue is funding. Local government tends to be very strongly dependent on central government funding allocation to pursue its policies, and one might look at more independent sources of local government revenue, for example, in the way you have with the versement transport tax in France, which is a local payroll tax used to fund transport projects.

James Freeman: The other thing is that local authority areas vary in size across the UK, and the smaller ones are really quite small. It is really important that public transport is looked at in a bigger and regional, rather than per-borough, context, otherwise different boroughs have different ideas and nobody does anything because they cannot agree at the margin.

If you take my experience in Bristol, the West of England Combined Authority is the transport authority, but Bristol City, South Gloucestershire and other local authorities are the highway authority. We already have three players in that game. They are politically different, they have different issues and they do not work together necessarily very easily. We need vertical integration so that we have, effectively, one authority in charge of transportation that does highways and transportation—that is really important—across a big enough area so that they can take a view of what you might call the travel-to-work zone of a particular part of the world; not monolithic, huge places, but naturally more than just one borough or district, because transport does not tend to sit in one borough.

Baroness Thornhill: We have only had very brief mention of the national bus strategy. How do you feel about it? Is it strong enough to really encourage successful local partnerships? In other words, what is your quick critique of the national bus strategy?

James Freeman: That is where the difficulty lies, in that it is one thing to have a strategy and a policy and another thing to be able to deliver it on the ground. I am not sure that the powers are defined strongly enough yet for local politicians to get some support when they meet tricky things. It means that local councillors will need to have government policy sitting behind them to say, “This is what we want you to do and this is what the country has decided we need to do”. That does not really exist at the moment, which is a problem.

Professor Peter White: The act of having to produce bus service improvement plans has been a useful exercise in its own right in bringing together operators and local authorities. In some cases adjoining authorities have produced joint plans, which partly helps to overcome some of the boundary problems that James mentioned.

The Chair: Would a more regulated system as proposed for Manchester deliver an improvement in other areas?

Professor Peter White: Franchising, more accurately described as service contracting, is one option. In many cases, what really matters is the efficient management of road space. For example, operators in Manchester have pointed out that bus priority might be one of the most effective ways of improving the bus service, whether or not you have franchising as a separate issue. It is important to focus on the quality of service as experienced by the passenger, rather than issues of ownership and control as such.

Baroness Thornhill: Do we have any really good evidence of where smaller authorities have worked together? I completely agree with the comment regarding size; up to a point size is relevant to this. Could you point us to somewhere where smaller authorities have worked together?

Professor Peter White: There is no immediate example, but if I can find one I will supply a supplementary note on that point.

Lord Best: May I ask a supplementary? Are these bus service improvement plans, which all the local transport authorities had to produce by October 2021, six months ago, like local plans of local authorities on the development side in that they are not really there? Some 60% of local authorities do not have a local plan.

Professor Peter White: All the LTAs that were asked to do so produced a BSIP, but on a very limited timescale. That limits, for example, the degree of public consultation they could carry out, and the extent to which any proposals have been subject to detailed economic evaluation, but they provide a very useful starting point for further co-operation between local authorities and bus operators.

One constraint is that the Government said everyone should go, in effect, for an enhanced partnership or franchising. These were originally discretionary powers under the Bus Services Act 2017, an option that could be taken rather than a compulsory requirement. The adoption of an enhanced partnership is subject to majority agreement by bus operators in the area, so it is not always automatic.

The Chair: I want to come back on the bus rapid transit schemes. You obviously found very good practice in France, which we will certainly look into when we do our international session. Given that they are obviously very beneficial, from what you are saying, why are there not more such schemes in the UK? Is that to do with the funding model, as I think you hinted?

James Freeman: I think it is to do with the funding and control models. The consequence of deregulation up to now has meant that it is difficult—in fact it has sometimes been impossible—to get operators in at the beginning of a set-up, so that you can have a comprehensive plan and know that you will get it through. The fact is that BRT schemes are very expensive as well. Although nothing like as expensive as tram schemes, they are still enormously expensive. The Bristol scheme, metrobus, was £230 million, for a very limited scheme. It is not cheap there either.

In a sense, to get these schemes off the ground requires a great deal of time, effort and money. Our process is quite gradual, and that uses a lot of time and money as well before you ever get to the answer. A BRT tends to be easier than a tram link just because it is smaller.

Professor Peter White: I have nothing to add on that point.

The Chair: I do not think there are any final questions.

Q79            Lord Moylan: Mine is not quite a question but a request for information, which we may be able to sort out internally. Coming back to the question of negotiating the compensation for concessionary fares, it seems very strange to me that you can have a statutory scheme that has to be negotiated on an ad hoc basis between individual operators and local authorities, whereas in London you have a statutory scheme for the freedom pass where there is no negotiation at all. TfL can simply impose full cost recovery on the local authorities, and does, broadly speaking. There is a little bit of fudge, but it broadly imposes full cost recovery on the local authorities.

Is there a note—we can look at thisbecause there might be something that we could recommend in relation to that which would help the Government bring the rest of the country up to the standard of London?

Professor Peter White: It is worth bearing in mind that in London, strictly speaking, London Councils, representing the boroughs, has to agree to the level of funding.

Lord Moylan: London Councils has to agree, but I used to do that for it. TfL will say this is the sum it wants. It has to be able to demonstrate it. Oyster card data now means you can demonstrate it much more closely than used to be the case when you relied more on estimates. So long as it can demonstrate it, and the factual evidence is there, the sum more or less follows without further negotiation.

Professor Peter White: The situation outside London, as we have said, is that different authorities have different compensation levels, although the same level applies to all operators within a given local authority area. In many areas a concessionary pass is also a smartcard outside London, so we have much better data than before on the number of trips. The area of dispute is the level of compensation paid vis-à-vis the full fare that would otherwise be charged, and that is what can vary substantially.

Lord Moylan: I understand that. There is full fare recovery in London, and TfL charges an element for notional extra buses that it provides to carry all those concessionary passengers, so they get more than full fare recovery.

Professor Peter White: Elsewhere the assumption was that most of the additional concessionary travel was filling spare, off-peak capacity. The Welsh scheme, I think, has a small capacity element in the funding, but it is very largely a payment in lieu of fares that would otherwise be charged.

Lord Moylan: It is curious that Gordon Brown could set up a national scheme and not provide a national funding base for it. There was no national concessionary scheme before he set it up. There were local concessionary schemes.

The Chair: You can see the direction of travel on these questions, and concessions, as we said at the beginning, are certainly an important area. If you have some further thoughts in the light of today’s debate, we would be very keen to hear from you. You kindly promised us a number of things—statistics on cycles and bus lanes, some smaller town successes and one or two other things. We will be in touch after the hearing, if we may, to follow those up. It has been a really fascinating session. Thank you very much for your time.


[1] Scott Le Vine and Peter White ‘The shape of changing bus demand in England’ Independent Transport Commission January 2020 <>

[2] Wixey, S., Jones, P., Titheridge H. and Christodolou, G ‘Measuring Accessibility as Experienced by Different Socially Disadvantaged Groups’ (2003). See

[3] See Gerard Whelan and Peter White ‘Assessing bus rapid transit outcomes in Great Britain’ Chapter 9 in Fiona Ferbrache (ed) Developing Bus Rapid Transit, Edward Elgar, 2019

[4] White, P.R., Dennis, N.P. and Tyler, N (1995) ‘Analysis of Recent Trends in Bus and Coach SafetySafety Science, Vol 19, pp99-107.