Perth-based bus and rail firm Stagecoach said it has urged politicians throughout the UK “to take tough action on congestion” and put buses at the heart of their plans to improve air quality in towns and cities.
Stagecoach said its regional bus companies have written to politicians – including MPs, MSPs and local councillors – across the UK to warn of the impact of congestion and to give local examples of the ways in which the problem is affecting millions of bus customers every day.
“Nationwide research showed that the direct and indirect costs of congestion to all UK motorists amounted to over £37.7 billion in 2017, an average of £1,168 per driver, with drivers spending an average of 31 hours a year in congestion during peak hours,” said Stagecoach.
“Stagecoach’s own research has also shown the extent of the problem.
“For example, in Manchester, the average speed of Stagecoach buses has reduced by almost 5% in the past two years.
“In addition, some bus journey times in Greater Manchester are up to 100% longer in the evening peak on cross-city routes.
“In South Wales, bus speeds have dropped by 13% in the past 20 years and in the West of England, peak-time journey times between Cheltenham and Gloucester have increased by 87% in the past 11 years.
“In Newcastle, Stagecoach has seen peak-time journeys increase in length by 13% over the past five years.
“Recent research issued by Greener Journeys also showed that the Government’s seven-year freeze on fuel duty has resulted in a 4% increase in traffic since 2011 and a similar decrease in public transport use, equal to up to 60 million fewer rail journeys and 200 million fewer bus journeys across the country.”
Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Mark Threapleton said: “This is not specifically about Stagecoach, or any other bus company – it’s about the impact of congestion on bus passengers and other road users across the country and the situation simply cannot continue if we are to continue improving local bus networks and improving the local environment.
“Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to step up to the mark and take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
“Buses are key to delivering this – effective bus networks can boost the local economy, improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and help improve air quality.
“We are playing our part by investing heavily in improvements for customers including in digital technology, new routes and new vehicles, but we need politicians to play their part to help buses flourish.
“All of the tools exist for them to take action now.”