[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Free OAP passes aid bus revival
Bus travel
More people used buses in 2004 than for 10 years
Free bus passes for pensioners in Wales have been highlighted as a key reason for recent UK growth in bus and coach travel across the UK.

The number of people who travelled on buses and coaches in 2004 was the highest for 10 years, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has said.

The Blaenavon to Newport service, the X24, is said to be the third-fastest growing route in the UK.

The CPT's Welsh director said free bus passes had been "a godsend".

John Pockett said the system "not only increases the number of people who use the buses, but it shows how a partnership between operators, the Welsh assembly and local authorities can really deliver something good".

"A lot of these older and disabled people wouldn't have gone out and about - it has opened up their social lives considerably," he added.

The growth in ridership in London, and that generated by free travel for pensioners in Scotland and Wales, is masking some dismal trends in the rest of the country
Passenger Transport Executive Group

The CPT study has found there were 4.5 billion journeys made in 2004, which was a 2% increase on 2003.

Mr Pockett said these figures were "indicative of an overall raising of standards in the bus industry".

"Frequency and reliability is the key to it all," he said.

"Half an hour is a long time to wait - if there is a bus every quarter of an hour, you don't mind hanging around."

He added that complaints about problems with rural services in Wales were not the fault of bus companies.

"I can assume the companies have looked at [the routes] and if they not commercially viable, then it is up to the local authorities, to decide if it is worth putting in a supported services," he said.

But a spokesman for the Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG) said the report's findings hid some problems.

"The big picture is that bus use has soared in regulated London and is flat lining at best in the rest of England.

"The growth in ridership in London, and that generated by free travel for pensioners in Scotland and Wales, is masking some dismal trends in the rest of the country."


SEE ALSO:
Bus workers handed police powers
27 May 05 |  South East Wales
Gurkha bus drivers find new jobs
10 May 05 |  South West Wales
City bus drivers strike over pay
12 Apr 05 |  South West Wales


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific