I cannot believe that it is 5 years since the first UK Bus summit, it only seems like yesterday, and what happy salad days of innocence and contentment they were. Back in the day, Brexit was not even a word, “Just call me Dave” Cameron was the Prime Minister, happily residing at Number 10 Downing Street. Indeed it is hard to remember the good old days of austerity and recession. Today of course Dave has has now moved to France ,where as Danny Dyer famously pointed out he has taken his trotters and well, lets just say that he has gone away.
The first bus summit really set the tone as far as I was concerned. The quality of speaker and quality of presentation and debate were first class. I of course made copious notes, as I do, and many a blog was the result. The one thing that I do like about this conference is the fact that it covers the whole of the UK. The conference compares and contrasts the policies implemented across the England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, indeed I can remember the good old days when all regions adhered to the same policies and procedures. Back in the days before devolution, remember those days?
In line with modern thinking this years conference will focus on the the theme of “ The Future of Mobility”, and why we need a long term bus investment strategy, along with air quality, and of course the tricky question of how do we get more passengers on board buses, at a time when passenger numbers are frankly declining, and in some place plummeting.
Th simple facts are that sadly buses are arguably the forgotten solution, indeed as I type this the BBC news is telling me that bus services have been slashed across the UK as Local Authorities have less many, and sadly in some cases, less inclination yo subsidise socially necessary bus services, especially in rural areas,where isolation is most acute. The truth is that buse are by far the most cost effective solution to the dual dangers of ever increasing congestion, and the requirement to deliver on air quality. The Government need to have to examine the consultation on the future of Mobility, and just what that means on a local, regional and national level.
I am delighted to note that Anthony Smith FCILT, the Chief Executive of Transport Focus will be chairing a discussion with the wise and the worthy on the key issue of how we put passengers at the heart of the decision making process. After all without them we serve no purpose, and like it of not numbers reduce year on year. So, while challenges face us across various fronts, on the positive, there has never been a better time for the case of the bus being the solution to these problems and not the cause.