A new report commissioned by PTEG (Public Transport Executive Group) from NERA, has concluded that without significant policy change the decline of the bus in the major UK conurbations outside London will continue. Over the next ten years NERA predicts that service levels will fall by around 20%, fares will rise by about 20% in real terms and patronage will fall by 20%.
The report comes twenty years after the bus deregulation (UK Transport Act in 1986). Since bus services were deregulated, bus use has declined by half in PTE areas and fares have increased by 86% in real terms.In particular, the report states that the situation is rather good for bus operators as they only run services where they are profitable but bus passengers have suffered from the fares increases and the declining service levels.
Moreover, the report predicts that the major bus operators will continue to increase fares and reduce services in the face of declining demand. The report states that voluntary or statutory partnerships can not, on their own, reverse the decline in bus use in PTE areas. Reversing the trend is only possible with really effective policies to increase bus use by greater control on the use of the car in city centres and with local authority control of the key bus service and fares parameters.