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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
UK bus use reaches 10-year high
Bus passengers
Figures suggest more and more people are taking the bus
Buses and coaches carried the highest number of passengers for a decade last year, a report suggests.

There were 4.5bn journeys in the UK in 2004 - up 2% on 2003, says the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

It says bus travel is more reliable and the industry is "enjoying something of a renaissance".

But critics say a big rise in bus use in London and free travel for Scottish and Welsh pensioners, is masking "dismal trends" elsewhere.

Fast-growing services

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) says the fastest-growing route is the Lanchester to Newcastle Go North East route, which has seen a 131% increase in passengers.

Other fast-growing services were the Clitheroe to Manchester Blazefield Holdings service, which shot up 94% and the Blaenavon to Newport Stagecoach service, which rose 66%.

The CPT says more commuters are taking the bus - accounting for an extra seven million journeys last year.

Spokesman Simon Posner said: "Modern bus travel is increasingly reliable, convenient and cost-effective."

"People [in London] don't know how lucky they are
Jonathan Bray
Passenger Transport Executive Group

But Jonathan Bray of the Passenger Transport Executive Group - which represents public transport in seven urban areas outside London - said things were different north of Watford.

He told BBC News: "In London bus use is soaring at nearly 10% last year - it's gone up a third in five years.

"In the big cities outside London we have seen a decline of between 3% and 4% in the last couple of years."

He said transport planners outside London were envious of mayor Ken Livingstone's powers to regulate buses, as deregulation meant fare rises and reductions in "socially necessary" services.

"People [in London] don't know how lucky they are," Mr Bray said.

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