If buses are transport’s ‘Cinderella’ mode, doing more than their fair share of the graft for scant recognition, then the UK Bus Summit is ‘The Ball’. Carrying 5.1 billion passengers a year (three times as many as the rail network), the humble bus deserves a day out once a year – and the summit, which returned last year after a break of 15 years, does a great job of addressing the key issues. But what did we learn?

Firstly, transport minister Andrew Jones pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the form of a requirement that operators make data about routes, fares and times open and accessible. This is welcome news, although it’s a shame that legislation is required for something that operators should have done long ago. Transport for London embraced open data and never looked back. Do your own app by all means, but others can and will use data more effectively. Let them.

What else did we learn?…

1. The issue of bus franchising remains as divisive as ever, despite now appearing to be closer than it ever has been.

2. Bus users are voiceless, and if bus operators want help with congestion they should start using technology to give them one.

3. Data about what’s happening to bus networks is patchy.

4. App-based personal mobility is coming and it will be big.

5. Driverless buses are not science fiction. You’ll live to see them.

6. The UK Bus Summit is a welcome addition to the calendar!


Related coverage in the latest issue of Passenger Transport:


‘We have one clear aim – to get people on buses’
Bus franchising, enhanced partnerships and open data all feature in the government’s new Buses Bill, as minister seeks to ease operators’ fears

Public and private wrestle over the future
The forthcoming Buses Bill will make it easier to introduce bus franchising, but Britain’s major bus groups and city regions remain divided on the issue

Uber is biggest threat to buses, says TfL chief
Although much of the current bus debate is centred on the structure of the industry, Leon Daniels says the ‘real news’ is app-based personal mobility

Driverless buses ‘could be a reality by 2020’
Automation may initially be restricted to within depots

Technology can help stimulate patronage
Speakers at last week’s UK Bus Summit expressed hopes that new forms of technology can play a big part in stimulating the switch from car to the bus

Value for money is top for improvement
While passengers trust operators, they want to see improvements

‘Use your relationships to mobilise bus users’
Needs of bus users ignored because they lack voice


The full story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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