Commenting on the publication of the National Bus Strategy, Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said:
“Buses are the workhorse of our region’s economy, helping get people of all ages to work, to school, to the doctor or the library, to the shops or to see friends and family. Before the pandemic, there were more than a half a million bus journeys a day in the South East. We don’t just want to see that number recover, we want it to double over the next thirty years, getting more people out of their cars, improving our towns and cities and helping break the link between economic growth and ever-increasing traffic and air pollution.
“There are fantastic examples in the South East of bus services which already offer a genuinely competitive alternative to the car in terms of cost, comfort and journey time. Working together, local authorities and bus operators have invested heavily in bus lanes and priority routes, new low- and zero-carbon bus fleets, better real-time journey information and new and easier ways to plan and pay for journeys across different transport modes.
“But that’s not the story everywhere. Outside our biggest towns and cities, funding cuts for local authority supported bus services mean too many people have seen their vital links reduce or disappear – and there are too many places where it’s cheaper, easier and more comfortable to go by car. That has to change.
“The proposals set out by government are a welcome step in the right direction and will help deliver much-needed improvements for passengers – but we cannot stop there. Delivering the scale of change needed in the South East to get people out of their cars and on to fast, frequent, clean and affordable public transport will require a long-term, sustainable funding model to drive investment in the years to come.”