It goes without saying that buses are a lifeline to countless people from inner-city workers and commuters to rural residents where remaining services are the only link to nearby towns.
But, first, local, regional and national policy-makers need to do more to reassure past and present passengers that buses are safe to use in the wake of Covid-19.
And then they need to consider the incremental steps that need to be taken in each area – local councils will have different priorities – so the bus, so long the Cinderella service when it comes to policy-making, becomes a default mode of public transport. Here current events provide the type of opportunity now being explored by the Greener Journeys think-tank in its timely critique.
One of the by-products of Covid-19 has been the cleaner environment as a result of the lockdown – countless correspondents to The Yorkshire Post have reported a discernible decline in air pollution coinciding with fewer vehicles being on the roads.
But – and this is the quandary – congestion, and therefore pollution, will return to harmful pre-Covid levels if people decide to use their cars with such frequency rather than catching the train, cycling or walking.
And the more fundamental question, more so than Greener Journeys’ assertion that investing an additional £2bn in buses would generate 425 million new bus journeys per year, is how to make this societal ‘quantum leap’.
An obvious start, if perceptions are to be changed, will be a closer correlation between bus operators, local authorities, reliability and cleanliness so services correspond with the requirements, and expectations, of the travelling public.
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