What will rural public transport look like in the future?

rb-relax-by-busGavin Booth gave some fascinating figures at the recent East Lothian Bus Forum, which compared and contrasted timetables today and under the old SMT, in the 70s.

A conclusion that one can draw from such comparisons is that bus services are as good today or better in terms of frequency. That was not the conclusion I had drawn from my own cursory examination, ie not especially rigorous, as you would expect from one who regularly beats people up with statistics.

Maybe I am easily distracted by classic design and typography, but these old timetables seem to show a denser network of routes and destinations, and that less services wasn’t necessarily a worse service overall. Perhaps it reflected a different rural world, one that was far less populous, with many more shops and services that were provided locally. One that was only just starting to become reliant on the private motor car, and one where I guess most people were employed much closer to their home and trains were run as a complementary service. Maybe people didn’t complain as much then as they do today. Continue reading What will rural public transport look like in the future?

Opinion piece: How to improve bus services from a passenger perspective

Harry Barker is Chairman of The Omnibus Society and regular contributor to the professional bus press and media.

We may have to accept that it is unlikely that a major increase in the number of services or frequency will be seen in the foreseeable future for financial reasons, both the commercial operators and the Council being restricted in this regard.

Therefore any improvement will require to come from better practices within the current network which are not expensive to implement.

Passengers should expect the following minimum standards to be available:

Continue reading Opinion piece: How to improve bus services from a passenger perspective

Opinion Piece: More or less

Philip Immirzi is a part time consultant and helps Relbus campaign for better public transport. He maintains this and many other websites, with the aim of improving local democracy

Although some choice is undoubtedly better than none, is more better than less? Well it just depends, say psychologists, and certainly not when less equals nothing at all. If you live in a rural area, the bus may well be just a fond memory, part of the folklore/history along with the village pub, with maybe an overgrown bus shelter as the only surviving evidence.

Competition thrives on the notion of choice, but as there is no broader public obligation duty built into the running of a bus service since deregulation [1. except that once permitted you run them to schedule and safely] rural areas tend to lose out as they are uneconomic. Significant public subsidy is required and this potentially distorts the market further. But equally, if you are on a commuter route, chances are you are spoilt for choice. In fact such choice could be downright confusing, with out of date or unreadable timetables, too many operators, different liveries and competing /opaque fare and ticketing regimes.

Continue reading Opinion Piece: More or less