Discussion Points:

Discussion Points:

This page is for interesting bus-related items which we have come across in the press and elsewhere. Please send us further suggestions to include here!

Better bus services needed to tackle low income work barrier

This research in 2018 supports the call that local and national Government, transport bodies and others should ensure that:

  • New bus franchising powers are used to improve the availability, affordability and reliability of services, to make it easier for people on low incomes to access employment
  • Planning processes are improved to make sure that new housing and employment developments are well served by public transport
  • Transport and employment policy are better integrated, so employment support providers can help clients to understand travel choices available to them.


What about free buses (FFPT = Fare-Free Passenger Transport)?

John Bibby of YBF attended a conference in May 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia on FFPT and fare-free buses. Transport for Quality of Life has published a paper on this idea.

For details about the Tallinn conference click here.

For a book on the subject see here.

  • Buses are already free in 100 towns worldwide, including 20 in France.
  • How could the UK follow this lead? Oneway would be to gradually extend the current concessionary bus passes. Initially perhaps they would be extended to cover those under 30 years of age, and those over 60. (Concessions currently cover children plus those who are 65+.) Peak-time travel could also be excluded.

The advantage of free buses is that more people would use them, there would be fewer cars on the road, and bus routes that are currently unprofitable would become profitable.

Free buses are also easier to handle and much, much quicker to load and unload. Each passenger takes 5-10 seconds to pay. So on a bus carrying 40 passengers, everybody has waited 5 minutes or more while fares are collected. This can add 25% or more to travel time – a distinct disincentive to bus travel.

Buses with rear doors also become easier. Travel becomes more spontaneous and more pleasant.

These ideas were discussed at the conference in Tallinn.

Fare-free buses lead to increases in bus use – perhaps a doubling. But the roadspace freed up by the new bus users is soon filled up by more cars, so long-term congestion does not improve unless incentives are give to reduce car use. One idea proposed in Tallin by John Bibby of YBF is the notion of a “Car Freedom Incentive” (CFI). This would be an annual payment from the taxman to everybody who does NOT own a car. At the same time, fuel tax would be increased massively. If fuel tax were doubled, then the amount raised could pay about £6000 annually to everyone who does not own a car. The CFI would be relatively easy to police. It would redistribute towards the poor, and would result in  a MASSIVE improvement of public transport as well as a reduction in car ownership and use. (Car manufacturers and petrol stations would hate it!)

  • Stagecoach profits are 2% of revenue in franchised area, but 12% when unfranchised.