Written submission from Action for Yorkshire Transport (BUS0005)
“Action for Yorkshire Transport” is an independent group campaigning for better bus and train services as well as improvements for active travel. We want to see less traffic on our roads. We cover West and North Yorkshire only. Our evidence is in italics.
1 The challenges facing the sector as it recovers from the pandemic and the effectiveness of steps taken by both Government and stakeholders in response
Road traffic has reduced since the Pandemic but bus travel has reduced more with patronage still increasing. Despite this, traffic levels continue to restrict the efficiency of bus services because of congestion. Although much work is being done by some local authorities to reallocate road space, others, including National highways, are proposing significant increases in road space, thereby threatening to increase traffic levels further.
Any new road built generates additional traffic, which in turn will lead to more carbon emissions. The SACTRA report ‘Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic’ (SACTRA, Department for Transport, 1994) said in its Executive Summary in para 10 “Considering all these sources of evidence, we conclude that induced traffic can and does occur, probably quite extensively, though its size and significance is likely to vary widely in different circumstances”. They estimated an additional 10% of traffic is generated in the short-term and 20% in the long-term.
More recently, the Department for Transport published “Latest Evidence on Induced Travel Demand: An Evidence Review” (WSP and Rand Europe, Department for Transport, May 2018) which endorsed the conclusions of the SACTRA report and pointed out that induced or generated traffic was more likely in situations where congestion was currently prevailing.
The shortage of bus drivers continues with a mix of improvement and worsening of the situation. There is no immediate prospect of bus frequencies being raised back to pre-covid levels. This shortage urgently needs to be resolved and a campaign to encourage people back on board the bus conducted. We are concerned that some of the temporary cuts, which go back 2 years, will become permanent. Yet there is plenty of potential for a modal switch away from the car to the bus. We need to counter the lockdown messages that told people not to use public transport. Many are still nervous about this today, with a lower number of concessionary pass holders returning to the bus than other groups of passengers.
2 Progress against the ambitions and targets set out in the national bus strategy including the effectiveness, pace and priority of the strategy’s implementation
Work is ongoing, particularly in West Yorkshire, on the enhanced partnership. But it will take time to see the benefits of this. In the meantime, we still have reduced services operating because of the driver shortage. The Partnership is working to resolve this across all operators, but with limited success.
3 Innovation in the sector, including examples of new methods that have been trialled successfully
A DRT service is being piloted in East Leeds, but we are not impressed by the low patronage to date and alarmed at the high cost of this scheme. The money could be much better spent on subsidising basic bus services.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority reports that there are now over 600 trips made per week on the DRT scheme which uses 6 buses in operation Monday to Saturday daytimes. By our calculation that equates to an average of 1.4 passengers per bus hour. The cost of this is £2.234 million.
4 Bus funding over the short and long term
We would like to see much more money being spent to support rural buses in the long term. An example of how such support can be used is in the attached, which we helped produce for Craven District Council.
5 Decarbonisation of the sector and modal shift from other forms of transport.
In West Yorkshire the use of Euro buses seems to be accepted as OK, but we want to see more electric buses. Modal sift will not happen to the extent required, to reduce climate change gasses, unless we reduce the road space instead of expanding it. We are happy to see the increase in active travel and are concerned that the Government doesn’t lose sight of this and the need for ongoing expansion. We are concerned that extra road space for car traffic creeps in when schemes are built supposedly for providing cycle and bus lanes. The short sighted and selfish demands of car drivers encourage this. We need to be thinking of restricting the space for car drivers to help evaporate the traffic down to a more acceptable level.