Great opportunities ahead for the industry

The Transport Times UK Bus Summit may only be in its second year, but it is already established as a key event in the transport calendar – and one the Department for Transport is delighted to support.

The bus industry today is experiencing sustained growth. 87 million more passenger journeys were taken on buses in England during the 12 months to September 2014 than the previous year. And that trend was seen around the country, not just in London.

What was the reason for the upturn? Well, certainly a rapidly improving UK economy and record numbers of people in employment played a big part. But the industry itself should be congratulated for improving services – particularly in areas where operators and local authorities are working together to attract passengers.

In Sheffield, for example, where a strong partnership has introduced co-ordinated timetables, a simpler network, and improved ticketing. Or in York, which has seen an 11% growth in patronage, and where passenger satisfaction is higher than any other surveyed authority in England.

The government will continue to support the industry through schemes like BSOG and Better Bus Areas. And soon we will be introducing the Buses Bill, which will provide powers for local transport authorities to franchise their local bus services subject to agreement from Government, and provide access to new partnership powers.

The future success of bus services in each area will depend on how well authorities, local enterprise partnerships and operators adapt to local conditions. Not every place will adopt the same strategy. It is more about what works best for each market, whether that's partnerships, a franchising approach, or – where bus services are already working well – the status quo.

I see this as a great opportunity for the bus industry. You already provide a vitally important service for millions of passengers a day. But we want you to grow further, as our economy recovers, as demand for travel increases, and as we seek more sustainable travel solutions, particularly in our cities.

The UK Bus Summit on 11 February is the ideal forum to discuss how best we can achieve this growth. So I look forward to seeing you there.

Reference: Transport Times, UK Bus Supplement 2016

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