Department for Transport – Written evidence (TTS0028)









Question 1: What are the current and anticipated levels of public transport demand and capacity in towns and cities in England? What influences public transport travel patterns? How does the choice of public transport vary across different demographic groups?

Current levels of public transport demand


1.   Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, bus use in England outside London had been on a downward trend since the peak of 2.41 billion passenger journeys in 2008/09. In 2020/21, bus use fell sharply because of the impact of nationwide movement restrictions introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chart 1: Local bus passenger journeys in England outside London and London, 2004/05 to 2020/21

Source: DfT Annual Bus Statistics 2020/21

2.   The latest data published by DfT suggests that levels of bus use in Great Britain in early February 2022 were around 70-80% of the levels seen prior to the pandemic in January 2020.


Taxi / Private Hire Vehicle and Light Rail


3.   DfT’s National Travel Survey shows that in 2019, the average person in England made 11 taxi or private hire vehicle (PHV) trips and travelled 59 miles by taxi or PHV. The distance travelled by taxi or PHV has increased by 10% over the last 10 years (from 54 miles in 2009), but the number of trips has remained broadly stable. The average taxi trip in 2019 lasted 20 minutes, the same as in 2018.


4.   Prior to the pandemic, light rail and tram passenger journeys had been on a long-term upward trend since 1990. However, they then fell sharply in 2020/21 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


Chart 2: Light rail and tram passenger journeys (millions): England, annually year ending March 1984 to year ending March 2021

Source: DfT Light Rail and Tram Statistics 2020/21



5.   Regional passenger journeys within each region of England (e.g. journeys from the North East to the North East, journeys from London to London etc.) fell by 73.0%, from 912 million in 2019-20 to 247 million in 2020-21. Regional journeys between regions in England (e.g. from the North East to other regions of England, from London to other regions of England etc.) fell by 84% from 480 million in 2019-20 to 77 million in 2020-21.





Chart 3: Regional rail passenger journeys within English regions (thousands), 2017-18 to 2020-21









Chart 4: Regional rail passenger journeys between (to/from) English regions (thousands) 2017-18 to 2020-21[1]









Chart 5: Arrivals and departures by rail on a typical autumn weekday in London: 2011 to 2020


6.   Between autumn 2011 and autumn 2019, the number of passengers arriving into London had been increasing steadily (orange bar in chart 5). However, in autumn 2020, the number of passengers arriving daily into London was typically 297,785 (a decrease of 73% on 2019 and 69% on 2011). Similarly, arrivals into London during the AM peak (green bar in Chart 5) had been increasing over the long term. In autumn 2020, the number of passengers arriving into London during the AM peak was typically 117,282 (a decrease of 81% on 2019 and 78% on 2011).


7.   Before the pandemic, the cities (outside London) with the most all-day arrivals were Birmingham followed by Manchester and Reading. All cities (outside London except Brighton) had seen a steady upward trend in all-day arrivals before the pandemic. In autumn 2020, all-day arrivals declined on average by 78% in major cities (outside London). The largest percentage fall in all-day arrivals was Manchester (84%) followed by Nottingham (83%).


8.   Rail capacity fell an average of 64% across all major cities between 2019 and 2020, from 10.5 million to 3.8 million. This increases to 73% when excluding London, which had the lowest fall in rail capacity between 2019 and 2020 of 57% - the only city to have a rail capacity decrease of less than 60%. The city with the largest decrease in rail capacity was Liverpool, which saw a fall of 91% from 492,695 in 2019 to 41,792 in 2020.










Chart 6: All Day Arrivals by Major Cities in England (outside London): 2017 to 2020











Chart 7: Rail capacity in selected major cities, England: 2019 to 2020[2]























Travel on public transport across demographic groups

9.   According to the National Travel Survey (NTS), in 2019, people in England made on average 97 trips per year across the various forms of public transport. Just over half of these (50) were on buses and a further 21 on surface rail trains. During 2020, under varying restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, people reported travelling on public transport less than in previous years (an average of 45), although due to operational issues for the NTS during the restrictions, caution is advised when comparing 2020 to other years.


Household income and public transport

10.   There are notable differences in public transport use by household income, with those in the lowest income households making nearly two and a half times more bus trips than those in the highest income bracket. The reverse is true for surface rail, where those in the higher household income brackets tend to use the train more frequently than those in the lower income brackets.


Chart 8: Average number of trips per person by household income quintile, England 2019

Source: National Travel Survey table NTS0705


Gender and public transport

11.   On average, the female population report more trips on public transport (average 100 per year) than the male population (94). This is consistent across most age groups with the female population reporting more public transport trips than the male population of the same age, but men aged 60 or over in particular report notably fewer public transport trips than women over 60. Conversely, there is a large drop in trip rates for women aged 60 or over as car driver compared to younger women, whereas the same is not true for men aged 60 or over.


Mobility difficulties and public transport

12.   Overall, people with mobility difficulties made on average 38% fewer trips than those reporting no mobility difficulties in 2019. Those with mobility issues report a much lower level of train usage compared to those with no mobility difficulties, whereas the number of bus trips is much closer to the overall average. This suggests that those with mobility difficulties tend to favour the bus more than other forms of public transport; on average 56% of the public transport trips of people with mobility difficulties were by bus.

Chart 9: Average number of  bus and train trips per person by mobility difficulty status, England 2019

Source: National Travel Survey table NTS0709


Age and public transport

13.   Younger adults (aged 17 – 39) on average report making more trips on public transport than older adults or children. Those aged between 17 and 29 report proportionally higher bus use when compared to other age groups, except for those aged over 70 who also report relatively high bus use. Surface rail is most commonly used by adults of working age, with those aged under 17 and 60 and over reporting fewer trips by rail.










Chart 10: Average number of bus and train trips per person by age, England 2019

Source: National Travel Survey table NTS0601









Question 2: How might public transport travel patterns shift in the next 10 years? What impact could digitalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic have on travel patterns in the long term?

Future travel patterns and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic

14.   The Department is actively monitoring changes in travel patterns as a result of COVID-19.  However, it is still too early to assess the impacts on travel patterns over the next 10 years as a result of the pandemic.


15.   Demand for rail travel is closely linked to real household income. The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast an average growth in GDP of around 1.9% per annum over the next ten years. Using DfT’s Transport Appraisal Guidance (Unit M4.8[3]), we are forecasting close to 1.9% per annum growth across the whole rail network as a result of real income growth over the next ten years. However, rail industry evidence and forecasts suggest that there could be between 5% and 50% reduction in rail commute journeys compared to a ‘no pandemic’ scenario. So, while DfT are forecasting rail commute journeys to grow, the pandemic has reduced the base which we expected it to grow from.


16.   Some early anecdotal indications are emerging for light rail. In England, between 2012 and 2019, prior to the pandemic, data from the National Travel Survey shows that 42% of light rail journeys are for the purposes of commuting[4]. However, since the pandemic and the emergence of working from home, some light rail operators have seen a reduction in commuters as businesses adapt to more hybrid work arrangements.


17.   Demand for buses in the future will be impacted by behaviour changes triggered by the pandemic; notably, changes in the location of housing and jobs, flexible working practices, and adapted household social responsibilities. Commuting by bus accounts for 21% of bus journeys, which represents a lower proportion of journeys when compared with both rail (37%) and the London underground (52%)[5]. Anecdotal evidence shows it is unlikely that commuting will return to pre-pandemic levels due to adjustments in the housing and labour market. For example, lower peak travel is likely to remain for as long as organisations encourage higher levels of working from home compared to before the pandemic.


18.   In comparison, shopping, leisure and personal business trips make up over 50% of total journeys. There is a high degree of uncertainty around future leisure travel behaviours, as these are influenced by the UK’s economic performance. For instance, bus passengers are likely to be disproportionately hit by rises in the cost of living. Due to inflationary expectations, lower-income households may cut back on discretionary trips to leisure activities such as going to the cinema and shopping.


19.   According to data from the National Travel Survey, in 2020, people in the lowest real income quintile made on average 41 local bus trips per person per year, more than any other income quintile[6]. Those in the highest income quintile made the least with 16 trips. Therefore, future economic uncertainty will affect patronage growth. On the other hand, bus patronage is susceptible to exogenous factors such as the affordability and convenience of the private car. Rising fuel prices in the short run could nudge more people to use public transport, such as buses, rather than private cars.


20.   The National Bus Strategy sets out an ambition to get overall patronage back to its pre-COVID-19 level, and then to exceed it. The Strategy sets out goals for a fully integrated service, with simple, multi-modal tickets, bus priority measures, high-quality information for passengers and, in larger places, the same turn-up-and go frequencies as London.


Impact of digitalisation

21.   The transport sector is rapidly transforming due to the integration of digital technology and the analysis and mapping of spatial and mobile data. These transformations, such as new capacities to model traffic and routes, promise solutions to the UK’s most pressing urban planning, design, and access needs, while fuelling innovation in new digitalised markets. The digital transformation of transport is making it easier for people to access public transport via Mobility as a Service solutions, creating multimodal journey plans and purchasing integrated tickets at the touch of a button. 


22.   A well-regulated digital transport market will enable innovation in digital technologies by creating opportunities for start-ups and scale-ups. However, digital markets have proven difficult to regulate for governments and regulators around the world. Competing incentives and protectionism prevent the collaboration required to realise many potential benefits. These barriers are particularly challenging where traditional transport companies interact with data companies and digital platforms, which provide transport solutions without transport infrastructure.


23.   To address some of these barriers, the Bus Open Data Service was launched in November 2020, followed on 1 January 2021 by the introduction of a statutory obligation to publish data. This is producing national datasets for timetables, fares and location. Previously, the private sector has been relied upon for cross-modal journey planning, but has been unable to provide comprehensive, accurate, England-wide local bus information. For example, a number of apps and websites give inaccurate information when tested, while web searches for particular routes often bring up old timetables which have since changed.


24.   This is changing as a result of open bus and mobility data. Multimodal journey planners are capable of knitting together what can otherwise be a fragmented and disparate public transport network. Working closely with providers such as Google, Moovit, Citymapper and Transit, the Department for Transport will support the creation of transport apps that show every service, including fares and journey information, and support inclusive and accessible journey planning. In addition, we will provide guidance through our upcoming Mobility as a Service Code of Practice, for which a consultation is open until 2 May 2022.

Question 3: What can be done to improve connectivity across public transport modes? How could better integration be delivered in urban areas outside London?


25.   Modal strategies across DfT- including the “Gear Change” cycling and walking strategy, the “Bus Back Better” National Bus Strategy and the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail- have highlighted opportunities for mode-specific reforms transport reforms. However, we also know that passengers rarely travel on just one form of public transport, particularly in the major conurbations.


26.   Passengers often make a choice between public transport or private transport. Currently, the public transport system can be fragmented, with multiple operators, payment platforms and service arrangements in place across different locations and different forms of transport. This can reinforce the private vehicle as the mode of choice (at the point of use) on the basis of simplicity, cost and convenience.


27.   If we are to reduce the reliance on car and increase utilisation rates for public transport, we must work towards integration of different forms of transport. Information and ticketing are fundamental to a well-integrated multimodal transport network, acting cost effectively to optimise service utilisation and ensure smooth journeys for passengers.


28.   Enhancing the passenger experience is crucial to the government’s mode shift and transport decarbonisation ambitions. The surface transport sector is the UK’s highest emitter of carbon emissions and the only sector where emissions have risen in recent years. Meeting the pledge for the UK to become overall net-zero directly requires fundamental change, including the delivery of infrastructure which provides a sustainable choice and enables behaviour change. This is why, in July 2021, the Department published ‘Decarbonising Transport: a Better, Greener Britain’ which sets out how we will decarbonise all forms of transport.


Integrated transport and levelling up

29.   In the Levelling Up White Paper, the government stated its mission to ensure that, by 2030, local transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.


30.   This mission is supported by major policy commitments that are geared towards improving connectivity across transport modes. For example, the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) is the biggest ever government investment in Britain’s rail network, with a £96 billion package that will transform connectivity and deliver faster and better journeys to more people across the North and the Midlands. The IRP acknowledges that connectivity also means integration between different rail services and other forms of local transport, including buses and light rail, thus providing better links for all, not just those travelling between big city centres.


31.   We are also providing mayors with greater flexibility to identify and address local priorities through integrated transport solutions. We are doing this by giving local leaders the powers they need to improve local transport through devolution deals. We are also delivering the £5.7 billion City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, which will provide eight city regions in England with London-style integrated transport settlements, delivering transformative economic, social, and environmental change through investment in local transport networks[7]. These settlements will consolidate some of the individual funding streams previously paid to these city regions, including funding for highways maintenance and fixing potholes, funding for small scale transport improvements and the Transforming Cities Fund.


32.   Outside of city regions, we are linking funding allocations more closely to local need through better strategic planning.  For example, Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) will set out local visions for the step-change in bus services that is needed, including plans for multi-operator contactless ticketing and consideration of how service patterns should be integrated with other forms of transport.


33.   The government will also work with Network Rail, National Highways and Local government to enable better planning so that bus priority and bus stations are provided as standard at hub stations. We will also work with Network Rail to agree a station vision to expand the provision of Parkway Stations across all major towns and cities nationally. We will encourage Network Rail to consider renaming Parkway stations and opt instead for the name ‘Integrated Transit’ or ‘Transport Hub’ to reflect the multimodal nature of the stations. We will also work with delivery partners such as Active Travel England to consider how to integrate other modes of transport into these hub stations.


Case Study- Plus Bus

34.   Bus and rail are the two primary modes of public transport, with buses primarily serving the local intracity market and rail primarily serving the inter-city commuter market. We will work towards the inclusion of bus services in rail journey planners as standard and support increased integration of bus and rail services to ensure these complement one another rather than compete against one another.


35.   Plus Bus is a product that enables rail passengers to travel to their station of origin/destination on public transport by offering discounted bus tickets when purchasing a rail ticket. As of April 2022, Plus Bus will be offered as a digital ticket in all Plus Bus areas. 


36.   During 2021, the Department for Transport and Rail Delivery Group commenced work to create a Rail Data Marketplace, which will make a variety of data sources available. Some of these will be free to use, and some will be chargeable but will be free to sample. The Invitation to Tender was published in December 2021 and a supplier will be appointed in April 2022. During 2022, we will continue to work with providers of rail journey planning apps such as Trainline and Rail Delivery Group to encourage the provision of Plus Bus products and the inclusion of bus services in rail journey planners as standard.



Question 4: What are the likely areas of innovation in urban public transport over the next 10 years? How should public policy be shaped considering both incremental and transformational innovations? How could data help transport services meet consumer demand?

Mobility as a Service

37.   Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms integrate and analyse data from multiple forms of transport to offer choice in journey planning to consumers. This requires the ability for MaaS platform providers to access service timetabling data, along with the ability to purchase tickets digitally. MaaS platforms can make journeys more convenient for consumers through streamlining planning and payment, which could encourage consumers to choose more sustainable forms of transport and empower more people to travel.


38.   Currently in the UK, we have an open model which leaves MaaS and the provision of mobility solutions to the open market, with companies like Citymapper accessing open transport data and offering open Mobility Service Provider interfaces to provide impartial journey recommendations. Expansion of the service and inclusion of other datasets such as bus predictions, cycle share and micro-mobility data is set to increase integration and utilisation of public transport in the main urban areas. Mobility solutions such as Trafi are being piloted in Hampshire currently, with local government directly contracting Mobility Solution Providers (MSP) to provide integrated journey planning and ticketing solutions. This gives the local authority greater access to and control of data to support transport demand management.


39.   MaaS is still in its infancy worldwide, with testing and trialling taking place alongside small-scale deployments. From these trials, we are starting to understand the digital infrastructure needed for MaaS platforms to be deployed on larger scales, along with broader social and behavioural changes to adjust to these new service offerings. In response to this, we are taking a voluntary, guidance-based approach through a code of practice to support these platforms as they emerge and mitigate any unintended consequences. A code of practice will also provide an opportunity to gather further evidence in a structured manner to understand where regulation might need to be brought forward in the future. A consultation on the proposed content of the code of practice is currently live and launched on 8 February 2022.


Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)


40.   Demand responsive services will never replace frequent urban and inter-urban routes, as too many vehicles would be needed. However, they could be particularly useful to improve provision in the evenings and on Sundays, serving large workplaces with anti-social hours such as hospitals and addressing the safety concerns of some passengers.

41.   DfT has already established a Rural Mobility Fund to trial more demand responsive services in rural and suburban settings and have awarded funding to 17 pilot projects. We expect all demand responsive services to be fully integrated with the mainstream network, accepting the same tickets and passes, using the same or similar branding and shown on timetables and journey planning apps and websites. We also expect them to be provided using accessible vehicles, including provision for a wheelchair user.


42.   We expect further Demand Responsive Transport schemes proposed in Bus Service Improvement Plans to be taken forward.  


Bus Open Data

43.   Over the next ten years, we expect to see more people in the major city regions travel into and within urban areas utilising public transport. However, to support this change in behaviour, passengers need access to multimodal journey planners and integrated ticketing. During 2021, the Department for Transport worked collaboratively with the industry to support operators to publish their timetables, fares and location data and share this information with application developers, supporting the integration of data into journey planning apps, products and services. New journey planning apps such as Citymapper have launched their product in the main urban regions nationally, including Newcastle, Brighton and Nottingham; areas that also feature in the list of top five local authorities for patronage growth.


44.   During 2022, we will continue to build upon this success and support journey planner providers to work with fares data, providing this as a General Transit Feed Specification to enable ease of utilisation. We also expect to see journey planners encouraging and enabling passengers to make travel decisions based on more than just the time taken to reach the destination. The provision of activity and emissions data will allow passengers to consider the health and environmental impacts of their travel choices. Accessibility and occupancy data will also be vital for enhancing the experience of people with accessibility needs when utilising public transport.


Digital Road Network

45.   The Department recognises the need for better coordination between vehicles and infrastructure to ensure the successful introduction of connected and automated vehicles and to support priority for public transport.


46.   We are developing a number of data-driven initiatives to support the delivery of a digital road network. Projects include the development of the ‘Find Transport Data’ service, which is a national transport meta-data discovery facility; the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) Data Model, which will provide nationally consistent digital TROs for storing and sharing traffic regulation order requirements; and the National Parking Platform, which will enable multi-vendor payment and provide real-time parking information. We are also developing a detailed standard for traffic signal operational data in the Digital Controller Information Standard, which will open up and digitise the basic operational data for traffic signals that is a basic requirement for connected and automated vehicle operation. A current discovery project is exploring a range of issues relating to the digital management of the kerbside and the opportunity to exploit this key public asset in a dynamic, real time way.




Question 5: Are local authorities well equipped with appropriate funding and powers to deliver high-quality public transport services? Would further devolution of transport policy contribute to better outcomes?

Local authority funding

47.   The government is investing £5.7bn in eight City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements. This represents an unprecedented investment in these local transport networks and implements recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission. These settlements will be delivered through multi-year, consolidated transport settlements that will be agreed by central government based on plans put forward by the mayor and other local leaders. They include £830m to West Yorkshire, for schemes such as starting work on a new mass transit system; £1.07bn to Greater Manchester, for schemes such as improving nearly 150km of bus corridors; and £570m to South Yorkshire, for schemes such as starting the renewal of the Supertram.


48.   These settlements will consolidate some of the individual funding streams previously paid to these city regions, including funding for highways maintenance and fixing potholes, funding for small-scale transport improvements through the Integrated Transport Block, and the Transforming Cities Fund. This will provide mayors with greater flexibility to use their funding to better meet local transport needs. 


49.   The government will, over the course of this parliament, deliver up to £3 billion of funding for bus services in city regions and communities across the country (including funding for bus transformation deals and new Zero Emission Buses, as well as COVID-19 recovery funding) while also supporting local areas with an £8 billion programme of local road maintenance and upgrades.


50.   For both City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements and bus transformation funding, the government is providing Local Authorities with revenue funding to support delivery. In 2021/22, city regions eligible for CRSTS were provided with a share of £50m capacity funding to enable them to develop integrated, investment-ready transport plans that will deliver on local priorities such as tackling congestion and driving productivity. In addition, eligible city regions will receive a share of £50m in 2022/23 and a share of £25m in 2023/24 and 2024/25.


51.   In 2021, bus capacity and capability support grants totalling £24 million were paid to Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) in England to support production of their Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).



Local authority powers and devolution

52.   Transport is highly devolved with devolved with responsibilities split between central government, MCAs, upper and lower tier authorities. Local Transport Authorities (upper tier authorities and Mayoral Combined Authorities) are responsible for transport planning in their areas and we are encouraging all places to update their Local Transport Plans during this parliament (see paragraphs 66-69).


53.   Local authorities are the Highway Authorities responsible for the maintenance and improvement of local roads, including, for example, providing bus priority routes. Local authorities also manage light rail systems, where these exist. The devolution of powers allows local leaders to manage transport in their area, while government retains responsibility for national transport networks, such as the Strategic Road Network managed by National Highways.


54.   The Levelling Up White Paper provides a clear plan to level up every corner of the UK, underpinned by 12 ambitious “missions” to deliver by 2030. This includes a mission to ensure that, by 2030, local transport connectivity across the country is significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing; and a commitment to give a devolution deal to every part of England that wants one.


55.   Transport has been a key part of previous devolution deals and will be included in the new county deals announced in the Levelling Up White Paper. These will give places with the highest level of devolution similar powers to those of London and those already devolved elsewhere. For example, in the White Paper, the government announced it would be giving metro mayors new powers of direction to manage the key roads in their areas. Additionally, the White Paper announced that the government will explore devolution of Bus Service Operators Grants and transfer of control of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing to both combined authorities and upper-tier authorities. Taxis and private hire vehicles are a key part of local transport systems, so this would allow local transport authorities to fully integrate these modes into their Local Transport Plans.


56.   In devolving transport powers to local leaders, there should be clear responsibilities and accountability for all tiers of government. As local leaders deliver public transport that serves their communities, it remains important that this also delivers a coherent and effective transport network across the country.


Question 6: Could better policy coordination across government departments, and between central and local government, improve public transport outcomes? If so, how can this be achieved?

Policy co-ordination between government departments

57.   The Department for Transport already co-ordinates key policies with other government departments to improve public transport outcomes.


58.   The Levelling Up Fund (LUF), announced at the 2020 Spending Review, is a cross-departmental fund between DfT, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and HM Treasury, investing £4.8 billion in high-value local infrastructure that improves everyday life across all countries and regions of the UK. The Fund builds on and consolidates prior cross-government programmes such as the Local Growth Fund, the Towns Fund and the Local Pinch Points Fund. By encouraging local authorities to consider applications for funding in the context of regenerating town centres and high streets and investing in cultural and heritage assets as well as upgrading local transport, the cross-government nature of the Fund helps to ensure that public transport projects are tailored to local priorities.


59.   The Department also works closely with DLUHC on its Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF). Over £4 billion has been allocated from HIF to local authorities for infrastructure to unlock housing, with much of this being spent on transport projects to improve accessibility and connectivity of sites. DfT supports DLUHC in the assessment and delivery of transport-related projects funded under the HIF. This ensures new housing sites are delivered with transport infrastructure in place from the start, meaning that new homes mean better, not more stretched, local infrastructure.


60.   The Department also joins up with other government departments on key strategic and technical documents. For example, DLUHC are involved in our current project to update the Manual for Streets (MfS), our good practice street design guidance.


Policy co-ordination between central and local government

Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail

61.   The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail is the biggest change to the railway in three decades and the government is committed to bringing forward vital sector-wide reform, including how the railway interacts with local government. Our passenger-focused reforms will bring in improved services, with new contracts focused on getting the trains running punctually and reliably.  


62.   A new rail body, named Great British Railways (GBR), will provide strong unified leadership across the rail network and bring ownership of the infrastructure, fares, timetables and planning the network under one roof, providing a single point of operational accountability and ensuring the focus is delivering for passengers.  


63.   GBR will be organised around regional divisions so that decisions are made closer to the places the railways serve. Cities and regions in England will be given greater influence over local ticketing, services and stations through new partnerships between the regional divisions and local and regional government. As set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, the government will commission the newly created Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) to explore opportunities for improved local engagement in the interim period before GBR is operational. This will include developing successor partnerships for those that are already in operation to align them with the ambitions of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.


Sub National Transport Bodies

64.   Seven Sub-National Transport Bodies (STBs) cover all of England, apart from London, and support the government’s aims to level-up the country. STBs are by their nature spatially focused, and bring together stakeholders in each region, representing local government and business. STBs can support the government’s objectives by joining up local plans across a wider geography, to capitalise on economies of scale and ensure coherence across local authority borders.


65.   government tasks each STB with developing a transport strategy for their region – a framework for a place-based approach which helps government identify transport schemes to invest in. As part of this, the STBs are working to turn national priorities into actionable plans for their region.


Local Transport Plans

66.   The Department has committed to updating its guidance on designing sustainable transport solutions through Local Transport Plans. 61% of authorities have not updated their Local Transport Plans since 2011, leaving many LAs with outdated plans which do not reflect recent national priorities such as decarbonisation, levelling up and housing.


67.   Revitalised Local Transport Plans (LTPs) will facilitate greater strategic planning, more efficient spending and, ultimately, better delivery of local and national transport objectives in local areas. Going forward, funding allocations will be linked more closely to local need through LTPs. In addition, the Department has committed, in its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, to transition to a state whereby local transport funding is conditional on local areas being able to demonstrate, through their LTP, how they will reduce emissions over a portfolio of transport investments.


68.   By working closely with local government on the development, maintenance and delivery of Local Transport Plans, central government can ensure that it provides clear and consistent messaging to councils regarding its strategic priorities, while offering project and delivery support.


69.   The Department will continue to be alert to opportunities to join up with other Departments and, through LTPs, local authorities in order to improve public transport outcomes. For example, successful Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) schemes (both domestic and international) offer bus segregation for the whole or for a considerable part of the route with bus priority at traffic lights and junctions. The difficulty in delivering this type of infrastructure in many parts of the UK is the lack of road space to accommodate it. If this was considered in the planning of new housing and industrial developments, the connectivity and public transport patronage in these areas would likely be improved.


Bus Centre of Excellence


70.   The government is working with local government and with the bus sector to develop the Bus Centre of Excellence, which will offer a long-term programme of training and support to LTAs to increase their capacity to deliver bus service improvements in partnership with operators. Training will focus on: public transport service planning and network design, performance oversight, contract procurement and competitive tendering, design and development of bus priority measures, and wider traffic management measures to improve local bus performance.



Question 7: What are the barriers to improving urban public transport, in terms of delivering the necessary infrastructure, increasing connectivity and improving the consumer experience?

The environmental impacts of transport

71.   Decarbonisation will deliver fundamentally better transport, for everyone, every day. It will make it faster and more efficient, as well as cleaner, and provide wider benefits including increased reliability and better connectivity.


72.   In July 2021, the Department published ‘Decarbonising Transport: a Better, Greener Britain’ which sets out how we will decarbonise all forms of transport.


73.   In rail, we committed to the delivery of a net-zero network by 2050, with an ambition to remove all diesel-only trains by 2040. To help deliver the government’s net zero commitment, we will electrify more of the network and deploy battery and hydrogen trains on lines where those technologies are a better option. We have delivered almost 800 track miles of electrification in England and Wales in the last four years alone.


74.   In November 2021, the government published the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), announcing the biggest ever investment in Britain’s rail network. The IRP includes the announcement of the complete electrification of the Midland Main Line from London to Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield and the full electrification and upgrade of the TransPennine Main Line between Manchester, Leeds and York.


75.   The government is supporting the development of battery and hydrogen trains through research and innovation funding, via Innovate UK First of a Kind competitions and the Rail Safety and Standards Board's Research and Development programme. This includes work on safety and wider issues to allow battery and hydrogen trains smooth entry onto the network. On 15 February 2022, the government announced £2.15m of funding to support the trial of a fast charging battery-only train for Great Western Railway. The trial of the battery-charging of technology on its network paves the way for battery-only trains to run in regular passenger service in the future.

Local transport

76.   In the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Department committed to transitioning to a state whereby local transport funding is conditional on local areas being able to demonstrate, through Local Transport Plans, how they will reduce emissions over a portfolio of transport investments.


77.   The government is also committed to achieving a fully zero emission bus fleet, and has committed £525m in this Parliament, including £270m allocated this year for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area scheme.

Fragmentation in the rail sector

78.   The current rail sector model is too fragmented. No leader or organisation at local, regional or national levels has responsibility and accountability for making the whole system work, and as a result, decisions get pushed up to the Department for Transport. As referenced in paragraphs 61-63, Great British Railways will end that fragmentation and act as a ‘guiding mind’ for the industry, with its regional divisions working in partnership in local government.

Frequency and quality of bus services

79.   The Department is currently undertaking research to build its understanding of barriers to bus travel, with a view to improving the passenger experience for bus users, growing bus patronage and supporting mode shift from cars to buses (see paragraphs 88-90). We already know, however that passengers’ priorities are for services to be frequent, reliable and good value-for-money[8]. The 2021 National Bus Strategy set out the government's ambitious plans for step-change improvements in these areas.


National Bus Strategy

80.   In March 2021, the government published England’s long-term National Bus Strategy, which sets out ambitions plans for making buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper.


81.   The Strategy required all English Local Transport Authorities outside London to publish Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs), setting out local visions for the step-change in bus services that is needed, driven by what passengers and would-be passengers want. At the Budget, the government announced £1.2 billion of new dedicated funding for BSIPs, and we aim to announce indicative funding allocations in the coming weeks.


82.   The National Bus Strategy includes an expectation that local authorities will include bus priority measures- such as bus lanes, bus-only roads, and traffic signalling technology that gives buses priority through junctions-  in any bids for relevant funding, or demonstrate why it is not necessary. Such measures can improve reliability and punctuality, making buses a more attractive option to passengers. Local authorities are already able to provide bus priority measures, but our good practice advice is out of date. The National Bus Strategy committed us to revise our guidance to ensure they have up to date, relevant advice on what measures are most effective.


83.   In addition, we are currently in procurement for a project to research and update Local Transport Note 1/97, with the aim of publishing in 2023. Local Transport Note 1/97 provides local authorities with guidance on traffic management to assist buses in urban areas. 


Improving the passenger experience

84.   The National Bus Strategy makes three key commitments for improving the bus passenger experience. The first of these is to review how legislation that separately covers buses, taxis, private hire vehicles and light rail may be brought together within the Future of Transport Regulatory Review, with a view to giving service providers a clear, long-term, regulatory framework and removing obstacles to innovation.


85.   Secondly, Local Transport Authorities must include, in their Bus Service Improvement Plans, a passenger charter that sets out bus users’ rights to certain standards of service, including punctuality, vehicle cleanliness, proportion of services operated, information provision and redress. In parallel, the Department is reviewing the rights afforded to bus passengers, with a view to enhancing these and setting a minimum national standard of provision for bus users. Any such standard will be expected to be incorporated into all local passenger charters.


86.   A key part of passenger charters is the redress available to bus users if their rights are violated. The government will consult on the appropriate standards and mechanisms by which bus users’ rights can be enforced, and to review the consumer landscape to determine the appropriate body to supervise them. 


87.   The Department is engaging with stakeholders such as Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), Transport Focus, Bus Users UK, Urban Transport Group (UTG), Association of Local Bus Managers (ALBUM) and Campaign for Better Transport to garner views on delivering the National Bus Strategy’s commitments to improve the passenger experience.


Case Study- Bus User Segmentation

88.   The Department for Transport worked closely with Yonder during 2021 to deliver on a segmentation project, exploring the needs of bus users and non-bus users. The project is building our understanding of how we can improve the passenger experience for bus users, grow patronage and support mode shift from cars to buses by changing people’s perceptions of buses and their attitudes towards shared transport.


89.   The research will be instrumental in developing an evidence-based behavioural change framework to help target new passenger groups as part of a national marketing campaign, particularly those categorised as belonging to the “near market”.


90.   During 2022, the Department for Transport will develop and launch an interactive toolkit for Local Transport Authorities to utilise the segmentation results and use this intelligence to inform their approach to bus provision.


Cross-modal local transport planning

91.   Local places are facing unprecedented transport challenges, including levelling up, decarbonisation, post-COVID recovery and future technology adoption. Many local authorities- particularly those outside of Mayoral Combined authorities (MCAs)- need greater support to be able to address these challenges using an integrated, cross-modal approach.


92.   To help local authorities in addressing these challenges, the Department will update guidance on designing sustainable transport solutions through Local Transport Plans. Local Transport Plans (LTPs) will set out an authority’s long-term vision for its transport infrastructure, taking into account existing mode-specific strategies and technical documents such as Bus Service Improvement Plans. By working closely with local government on the development, maintenance and delivery of Local Transport Plans, central government can ensure that it communicates its strategic priorities clearly and consistently to councils, while offering project and delivery support. In turn, LTPs will facilitate greater strategic planning, more efficient spending and, ultimately, better delivery of local and national transport objectives in local areas.


93.   In the Levelling Up White Paper, the government also committed to exploring Regional Centres of Excellence that can provide bespoke support to Local Transport Authorities. Over the coming months, the Department for Transport will work with stakeholders across the country to agree the best approach to delivering Regional Centres of Excellence.


Street infrastructure

94.   Streets and roads make up three-quarters of all public space. How they are designed therefore has a significant impact on people’s lives. Good street design can help deliver on many policy areas, including access to better public transport, particularly buses. There are two strands to this - enabling people to access services more easily and designing the street to accommodate buses so that services are reliable, attractive, and a realistic alternative to private cars.


95.   Enabling more walking, particularly, can boost public transport use. Walking is the first and last stage in many public transport journeys, particularly bus journeys, and is the means of interchanging between different forms of transport.  For example, at a bus or train station. Improvements to public transport services are of limited use if the street environment does not help people to get to bus stops or stations.


96.   Local authorities are responsible for management of the streets and roads in their area and have a high degree of autonomy in how they do this. The Department's role is to provide a legislative framework, good practice guidance, and funding for maintenance and enhancements. Our good practice guidance on street design, the Manual for Streets (MfS), was published in 2007 and represented a complete change of approach, advocating that streets should no longer be designed to accommodate vehicle movements over the needs of people walking, cycling or using public transport. MfS2 was published in 2010 and extended these principles to other streets such as town centres and high streets.


97.   We are currently undertaking a project to bring together and update both MfS and MfS2, to ensure the advice within them is still relevant and enables those designing streets to do so in a way that contributes to sustainable, healthy and active communities. We aim to publish the updated MfS later this year.


98.   We have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including road user groups, and representatives of the bus industry, to ensure the updated advice in MfS is comprehensive and enables streets to be designed that work for everyone.


99.   To sit alongside MfS, new national guidance is being developed in the MfSS, (Manual for Smart Streets), that will guide local authorities through the requirements for specifying, procuring, delivering and operating a wide range of new and digitised services, including parking, Electric Vehicle charging, common payment platforms, mobility as a service and asset management. This guidance will be fully web based and interactive and will be hosted by the Transport Technology Forum (TTF). The TTF is a forum for local authorities and those providing transport technology services into road operators. It is jointly funded by the Department and Innovate UK and aims to provide guidance and information to support road operators in meeting the high-level policy objectives set out by the Department and preparing for coming challenges in transport delivery.


100.   The Department also publishes guidance on how to make the built environment inclusive. In January 2022, the Department published an update of its guidance document “Inclusive Mobility”, which sets out best practice guidance on designing and improving the accessibility and inclusivity of pedestrian infrastructure, as well as public transport. It also published at the same time an update to the “Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces” document, guidance on installing and using different tactile paving surfaces which help to give visually impaired pedestrians important information about potential hazards and other features in their environment.


Maintaining local roads that support public transport

101.   Local highways matter for everyone. 98% of roads are local roads, and almost all journeys start and end on them. Well-maintained local roads contribute positively to smooth multi-modal journeys, while badly-maintained roads can undermine efforts made to improve public transport- particularly bus services.


102.   The Department for Transport will ensure that any road scheme it funds includes provision for bus infrastructure, unless it can be clearly shown that there is little or no need for it. In addition, the 2021 Budget includes £2.7bn funding for local roads maintenance outside of major cities. The Department for Transport has written to local authorities to set out their funding allocations for the next three years – providing them with long-term assurance and confidence to plan maintenance work.



103.   The government’s 2018 Inclusive Transport Strategy (ITS) recognises there are barriers for disabled people in accessing our transport networks. The Strategy sets out government’s plans to make our transport system more inclusive and make travel easier for disabled people. Our vision for 2030 is for disabled people to have the same access to transport as everyone else, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier, allowing disabled people to travel confidently, easily and without extra cost.


Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

104.   The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on public sector authorities, including Local Authorities and Local Transport Authorities, to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty in carrying out their functions. This includes making reasonable adjustments to the existing built environment, as well as ensuring that the design and management of new infrastructure and services (including public buildings and transport facilities) facilitate access for all.


105.   We know that different people have different reasons to travel, that they have different levels of ability to travel and face different barriers to their journeys. In responding to the PSED, our aim is to better understand these differences and to seek to extend equality of opportunity. The department’s Outcome Delivery Plan commits DfT to build in wider consideration of all protected characteristics in policy development practices. We have rolled out PSED training for DfT staff, and we are embedding PSED considerations in current policy and project development structures through an equality impact assessment process.


Rail stations

106.   There is a lack of tactile markings for visually impaired passengers at some train stations. We have accepted the Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s recommendations to DfT following the fatality at Eden Park station in February 2020, and we are working with Network Rail, Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Safety & Standards Board to ensure adherence to these recommendations. An estimated 60% of British mainline station platforms have tactile surfaces. We are committed to making this 100%, and Network Rail has received an initial £10m to begin installing tactile paving at priority stations. Further funding announcements will be made shortly.


107.   The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail announced a comprehensive accessibility audit of network facilities. Assessing all 2,565 GB stations, the audit will identify accessibility features at stations and this will ultimately be available on a new GBR website. The information will be updated as station infrastructure work completes. Data will help passengers plan journeys with greater confidence and support future investment decisions. This will complement future investment decisions for the Access for All programme, which will deliver £383m of accessibility improvements at rail stations by 2024, including more than 100 accessible step free routes and smaller scale access improvements at another 124 stations. The programme, launched in 2006, has already delivered step free routes at over 200 stations and smaller scale access improvements at more than 1500 stations.


Bus stop and bus station accessibility

108.   Most journeys by bus begin or end at a bus station or stop, and their design and location are likely to have a significant bearing on the ability and willingness of passengers to use bus services. A bus stop set within an accessible streetscape and which is equipped with lighting, information in accessible formats, and sufficient space for a bus wheelchair ramp or lift to be deployed, will likely facilitate independent journeys by a range of passengers, while the absence of these features may inhibit travel. The Department committed in the 2021 National Disability Strategy to undertake research to understand the essential features of an accessible bus station and stop.


109.   The government’s National Bus Strategy includes a commitment to make sure journey planning apps, products and services can provide passengers with accessibility data about bus stations and stops so they can make informed travel choices based on current knowledge of service accessibility.


Case Study- Disabled Persons Passenger Charter


110.   To assist disabled people accessing our transport networks, we are working with the disability charity Scope to develop and deliver a land transport Disabled Persons Passenger Charter for bus, coach, taxi, private hire vehicle and rail. This will collate, in one place for ease of access, information about disabled persons’ passengers’ rights and how to seek redress when things don’t go to plan.


March 2022



[1] Chart 4 counts a journey from London to another region of England for both London’s total journeys and the region’s total journeys, which explains why London’s total journeys appear to be as large as the overall total for England. The total figure for journeys in England can be reached by halving the sum of the region totals (including London) in the chart.

[2] The 2020 figures have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the capacity figures for 2020 do not take into account total seats and standing allowance, but rather use a socially distanced 1 metre+ capacity figure.



[5] National Travel Survey, Table NTS0409

[6] National Travel Survey, Table NTS0705

[7] The eligible city regions are Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire, Tees Valley, West of England, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. The North East will become eligible for a settlement subject to the creation of appropriate governance arrangements to agree and deliver funding.