North East bus firms lose 14 millions of passengers
The number of bus journeys made in Tyne and Wear has fallen by 14 million in five years, according to new figures.
Department for Transport data shows that 106 million bus passenger journeys were made in the area in the year to March this year – down from 120 million in 2014-15, a 12% drop.
That means the average resident took 7.7 local bus journeys a month, compared to 8.9 in 2014-15 and the number of miles clocked by buses fell from 47.8 million to 42.4 million miles.
Nationally, there were 4.1 billion bus journeys taken in 2019-20, down 6% from 2018-19 and 12% from 2014-15.
The DfT says the number of journeys was impacted by Covid-19 restrictions but added the five-year trend did show there was "more that can be done to deliver reliable and regular bus services.”
In Tyne and Wear, watchdog group Transport Focus carried out survey of bus users at the end of last year.
It found 92% of users were satisfied with local services, including 64% who were happy with the level of fares.
The Campaign for Better Transport, a pressure group, said the annual statistics show route cuts and rising fares were “hitting communities hard, long before the pandemic".
Head of media Alice Ridley said: "Travelling by public transport must be affordable and convenient to avoid car journeys escalating and non-drivers being excluded."
The Government is currently drawing up a National Bus Strategy.
The DfT spokeswoman said: “This will build on our significant investment, which includes more than £900m of emergency funding to keep buses moving throughout the pandemic."