Bus services in crisis – a 21st century solution

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2019 Water, Environment & Transport Conference
25 February 2019

2019 is yet another challenging year for bus services, with operators facing financial pressures and local authorities facing further budget cuts. Increased congestion and road closures due to roadworks mean that operators have to allocate additional resources to serve reducing demand. The result looks like further cuts to and withdrawal of bus services across the United Kingdom, which will affect the job security of our members working in transport and the erosion of their terms and conditions.

The lack of funding means that bus services often fail to meet the changing needs of customers. They often don’t cater for continental shift patterns; there are fewer or no Saturday services or they start later and finish earlier, meaning that people cannot get to work; there are even greater reductions to Sunday services – even during shopping hours; and there is often little integration and connections with other modes of transport – especially during the evening. The increasing dependency on electronic journey planners means that there is little awareness of bus networks and the frequency of services amongst the population as they seldom see the whole timetable.

As the United Kingdom struggles with the challenges of climate change, buses are seen as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. There needs to be a coherent strategy on alternative technologies that deliver financially sustainable products. At present electric vehicles have a range of 150 – 200 miles per day, but the buses of an inter-urban operator typically cover between 250 and 300 miles per day. The additional costs of these vehicles means that operators look to reduce costs in other areas of their business, often support staff including UNISON transport members.

To safeguard jobs and protect transport member’s terms and conditions, Conference calls on the Water, Environment and Transport Service Group Executive, working with the National Executive Council, Regions, Labour Link and other stakeholders, as appropriate, to:

1) Campaign for a fully funded, integrated, publicly owned public transport system committed to paying the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage which meets the needs of society;

2) Work with the Campaign for Better Transport to promote awareness of and improve bus services throughout the United Kingdom;

3) Promote buses as part of the solution to meet climate change targets.