Stagecoach have issued a press release criticizing lack of action on tackling traffic congestion.
"The reality is that the biggest issue facing many of our towns and
cities is the crippling and worsening traffic congestion which is
plaguing almost every part of the country, damaging mobility in all its
forms: the bus network, public transport more generally, as well as all
other road users. Growing gridlock - particularly at peak commuter times
- is strangling our towns and cities.
That is on top of the £13b a year congestion costs the UK economy and
the worsening impact it has on air quality, which is already
responsible for around 29,000 premature deaths a year across the
Statistics issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) earlier this
year showed that traffic on Britain's roads reached its highest ever
level last year and congestion has continued to rise. Total traffic has
increased by 2.2% with van traffic up 6.1% and car traffic up 1.7%.
Separate DfT congestion figures show that average speeds on A roads
during the morning peak have fallen for almost four years.
At current rates between now and March 2020, congestion will have
wasted around £50b - enough to fund the entire cost of the HS2 high
speed rail project that is seen as a crucial part of the drive for the
Against this toxic environment - where congestion pushes up the cost
and damages the reliability and competitiveness of bus travel - as well
as a period in which public sector investment in buses is being cut
dramatically, it is no wonder that bus use has been impacted.
Mr Begg’s report highlighted the growth in online shopping leading to
more delivery vans on the road as partly to blame for the rise in
congestion, with the surge in Uber drivers also contributing to a rise
in car use.
The situation is set to get worse, with traffic on our roads expected
to grow by up to 55% by 2040, and morning and evening ‘rush hour’
periods already lengthening as traffic volumes reach saturation point in
cities like London, Manchester and Bristol.
Buses carry more commuters than all other forms of public transport
combined and help to generate £64bn per year for local economies, while
helping vulnerable people across the country stay connected with their
communities. In London, where planned roadworks have increased by 362%
in three years, bus speeds on some routes have fallen so dramatically
that it is almost quicker to walk than take the bus, according to the
independent study, commissioned by sustainable transport group Greener
So what’s the answer to the country’s on-going battle with road
congestion? Well, buses could themselves hold the answer. If more people
travelled by bus, there would be fewer cars on the road, leading to
greater reliability of bus services, happier customers and more people
turning to public transport.
But this will only work as a solution if our politicians take bold,
comprehensive action to tackle the scourge of road congestion that is
holding buses back from delivering on their full potential.
It is said in Mr Begg’s report that official targets for average bus
speeds and the national introduction of contactless payments by 2019,
three years earlier than planned, could help to tackle ease congestion.
Other measures to be considered include charging van drivers making
deliveries during peak hours; introducing more road schemes such as bus
lanes; and encouraging bus companies to provide more up-to-date travel
information for passengers, says the report.
The Local Government Association has suggested that Councils should
be given more powers to charge utility companies for the time they spend
digging up busy roads. It called on the government to grant all
councils the power to introduce a daily rate for companies, in an effort
to reduce road delays.
It seems logical that the bus, which is the mode of transport that
carries the most amount of people using the smallest amount of road
space, should be given priority where appropriate. Bus priority measures
also offer good value for money to taxpayers too, with research showing
that targeted investment in local bus infrastructure and selective
priority measures will typically generate £3.32 of net economic benefit
for each £1 of cost incurred.
Experience from bus priority schemes around the UK shows that bus
lanes can reduce bus travel times by up to seven to nine minutes along a
10 kilometre congested route and also improve their reliability.
Previous research has also found that more than a third of car users
would use buses more if they were faster.
There appears to be a clear focus on the environmental challenges the
country faces as car manufacturers are investing heavily in electric
and hybrid vehicles. While these vehicles will continue to assist in
tackling climate change, they do not help reduce the number of cars on
Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Robert Montgomery said: “Bus
operators across the UK are working incredibly hard to deliver service
improvements for customers through brand new vehicles, huge investment
in new technology and better customer information but there is one thing
that we constantly come up against – reliability issues caused by
“It is high time our politicians turned their attention to addressing
this problem, which is a ball and chain around the ankles of Britain’s
bus operators and other road users. Local authorities have the power to
do something about this and we would urge them to tackle the problem of
road congestion as a priority and help get Britain moving again."