Transport Committee visits Bristol to hear about health of bus services
Members of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee visited Bristol today (Monday 12 November) to hear about bus services in the area.
MPs were in the city to hear the views of local authorities about how the market works, what can be done to improve bus services and how they would like to see the future of bus services developing. The main issues surrounding the use of new powers given to local authorities by the Bus Services Act 2017 were also under consideration.
Bristol accounts for five percent of all journeys in the UK and buses are the most popular form of public transport. The number of passenger journeys in Bristol has risen by more than 40% since 2009/10 compared to bus travel in English metropolitan areas outside London, which has declined by 40% over the last 25 years. The City Council has recently concluded a consultation into their Transport Strategy up to 2036.
The Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood (Lab, Nottingham South) was joined by Committee members Grahame Morris MP (Lab, Easington) and Daniel Zeichner MP (Lab, Cambridge). They met with Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees; Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England; James Freeman, Managing Director, First West of England, Giles Fearnley, Managing Director, First Bus; and officials from Bristol City Council and the West of England Combined Authority..
Chair of the Transport Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:
“With bus use in Bristol on the rise in contrast to a general decline across the country, buses are clearly a vital part of life in the city. Our session with local authorities gave us the opportunity to discover why more people are travelling by bus in and around Bristol.
“Our inquiry is looking into how services are provided outside London and how they can better meet the needs of communities in the heart of the city and beyond. Many factors impact bus use – congestion, competition, funding, pricing – and it was good to hear how Bristol is managing these.”
James Freeman, Managing Director, First West of England, added:
“We very much welcome the visit by the Commons’ Transport Select Committee to hear about how we are successfully increasing passengers on our bus services in the city. We also made the Committee aware that whilst we are investing significantly in new and greener vehicles, continued investment in bus friendly schemes is paramount if we are going to address the fundamental issue of congestion.
“We also highlighted how metrobus is getting people out of their cars and onto public transport with some 400,000 passengers to date since the first two routes went live. Meanwhile, we are working flat-out to combat the current problems of congestion that are affecting the reliability of our services across the West of England.”
The inquiry was launched in July to consider how bus services are run in England outside London. Last month, the Chair visited Leicester to meet passengers.