It was with a sense of relief if I am honest that I read in the excellent CILT weekly news bulletin that kindly informed me that Lillian Greenwood MP, the excellent Chairman of the Transport Select Committee has announced that at long last there is to a proper inquiry into the health of the good old UK bus market.
Those of you who have been kind enough to read my musings over the years will be well aware that I have been banging on for ages about what is a clear disaster because we do not have a proper UK Bus strategy. We have one for rail, we have one for roads and cars. But quite frankly there is diddly squat about the humble bus. This inquiry could not come at a better time, Bus use has been declining outside of London for years and has now fallen by 40% in other English Metropolitan areas.
At last MPs will consider the big picture including reliability of bus services, the real impact of the big threat which is congestion, and issues like air quality. In addition they will review how bus services are run in Metro-Mayor areas and other metropolitan and non- metropolitan districts. They will also examine how bus services are financed and identify areas of innovation and best practise.
I will be making quite sure that the Bus and Coach Forum of CILT will be leading the charge, as this is a once in a lifetime chance to put the real case for the bus to be the solution to both congestion and air quality, and to build a robust and sustainable bus strategy that addresses the real issues. The facts are that bus decline is largely down to slower journey times, leading to passengers finding alternatives like cheap motoring which then makes congestion worse. And so the spiral goes on, but, (and this is the key) now EU directives on Cities failing air quality targets will get heavily fined, so local authorities are needing to find solutions, hence the rapid imposition of air quality zones.
Therefore I applaud Lillian Greenwood and the Transport select committee they have done a good job in the past. My only real hope is that now they can put together a strong and reasoned business case as to why the bus industry, in conjunction with strong stakeholder partnerships can deliver excellent public transport solutions for the towns and cities that we serve across the length and breadth of this sceptered Isle.
Indeed there is a huge amount of best practise up,and down the UK. how do I know because I have been out and about visiting the Companies and the people that have been doing just that .At this juncture I will not name those worthy people and Companies but I am part way through visiting some of the best bus Companies in the UK large, small, and medium there are some brilliant things happening I know because I have seen them. Indeed tomorrow I am visiting a business that is setting the standard for the Industry. Watch this space and do your bit as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, get on the Inquiry website and submit your views through the health of the bus market inquiry page. We have at lng last the chance to make it ur case, we cannot afford to waste it.