Bus operators from across the North East, including Go North East, Arriva, Stagecoach and a number of smaller operators, set out their vision for the future of the region’s buses earlier this week at the launch of ‘NEbus’, the re-invigorated operators association of local bus companies.
The event, which took place at Times Square in Newcastle, saw stakeholders from across the region gather to hear about the work of bus companies in recent years in investing in the latest generation environmentally friendly vehicles, innovations such as contactless ticketing and onboard facilities such as better seats, USB charging points, free WiFi and more. They also heard how bus operators are a major employer with over 6,000 local people working for them and how Tyne and Wear has the 4th highest bus use per head of population in England outside of London, higher than any other PTE area.
Whilst bus users in the North East give their buses a higher than average 90.3% overall satisfaction rating in the most recent annual Bus Passenger Survey by the Transport Focus watchdog, bus operators are calling for better support to tackle rising congestion and help make buses even better.
NEbus Chair, Martijn Gilbert, said: “Delivering high quality, sustainable public transport is a shared responsibility between operators, Local Authorities and Central Government.
“No one party has all the solutions, so if buses are to truly fulfil their potential then they need greater support from stakeholders, especially with matters such as tackling some of the worst congestion which undermines the delivery of reliable bus services and add to costs. This, in turn, will deliver greater air quality benefits by reducing pollution from idling vehicles and enabling more attractive low carbon journeys by public transport modes such as the bus.
“There is already a good story to tell about buses in the North East, with operators employing over 6,000 local people and having a combined overall customer satisfaction rating above 90%. Investment figures are also high, with over £80 million spent on new buses since 2015, and more arriving each year with the latest low emission technology, but there is more that can be done to help improve services across the region and we are calling on partners across the region to embrace a more positive message about buses and work with us to deliver further improvements.”
The NEbus launch included public engagement activities in the afternoon, with examples of the latest buses from all of the major operators.
With more journeys being made on buses than any other form of public transport, the North East’s bus operators are calling for buses to have a higher profile, for stakeholders to recognise the huge steps forward that the industry has made in recent years, talk more positively and to work more collaboratively in partnership to enable local bus services to be even more successful in supporting the economy of the North East as they are in places like Brighton, Harrogate, Nottingham, Oxford, Rossendale, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton and others.
In addition to tackling the important issues of congestion and air quality, NEbus’ future vision also focuses on connecting communities and supporting the local economy to help keep our towns and cities moving.
The group will also continue to work on new initiatives in joined-up customer communications, marketing, multi-operator ticketing, shared technology and more.
To find out more about NEbus, visit nebus.co.uk.