Suffolk: Boost for public transport system as bus passenger numbers increase after years of decline
- Credit: Archant
Growing numbers of people are choosing to travel by bus in Suffolk, new figures suggest.
A total of 17.4 million ‘passenger journeys’ were recorded by local bus services in the county in 2013/14 – an increase of 4% from last year.
The boost to the region’s public transport system follows three successive years of a decline. It dropped from 17.9m in 2009/10 to 16.7m in 2012/13.
Trevor Garrod, chairman of the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association, welcomed the news but called for moves to maintain the upward trend.
He said: “For many years, bus usage outside of London has been going down, so it is good to hear that in our county it is going up.
“I suspect part of the reason might be that there are new services. If you take our area, Waveney, for example, we have certainly got improved services, So to some extent, people are voting with their feet.
“We hope this increase will be sustained under bus deregulation where commercial services make up most of them and can change services with just six weeks’ notice. We hope operators will make the services stable so we can rely on them.”
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But he warned: “In rural areas, the situation is not so rosy, where services are subsidised by the county council. Clearly, if there are public spending cuts, some subsidies could be cut. But the county council has over the last year made some subsidies over a five-year period, when it tended to just be one, which we welcomed. It is very important they provide services in areas where there is a necessary need for them.”
The figures were released by the Department for Transport. A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We very much welcome the figures, especially given the reduction in the number of bus services available over the last couple of years. By closely working with bus companies and making better use of the network, we are jointly still carrying almost the same number of people.”