Stagecoach Manchester has urged politicians to take tough action on congestion and put buses at the heart of their plans to improve local air quality across Greater Manchester.
The bus operator has written to local politicians – including MPs and local councillors across the UK to warn of the worrying impact of congestion and to give examples of the ways this growing problem is affecting local bus customers every day.
Nationwide research showed that the direct and indirect costs of congestion to UK motorists amounted to over £37.7 billion in 2017, an average of £1,168 per driver, with drivers spending an average of 31 hours a year in congestion during peak hours.
Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
Stagecoach’s own research has also shown the extent of the problem. For example, since 1996, Stagecoach Manchester has had to increase the number of vehicles on the road during peak times by 20% as a result of traffic congestion.
In addition, recent research issued by Greener Journeys also showed that the Government’s seven-year freeze on fuel duty has resulted in a 4% increase in traffic since 2011 and a similar decrease in public transport use, equal to up to 60 million fewer rail journeys and 200 million fewer bus journeys.
Stagecoach Manchester managing director, Elisabeth Tasker, said: “This is not specifically about Stagecoach or any other bus company – it’s about the impact of congestion on bus passengers and other road users in the area and the situation simply cannot continue if we are to continue improving the local bus network and improving the local environment.
“Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
“Buses are key to delivering this – effective bus networks can boost the local economy, improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and help improve air quality. We are playing our part by investing in improvements for customers including in digital technology, new routes and new vehicles, but we need politicians to play their part to help buses flourish. All of the tools exist for them to take action now.”
Traffic congestion significantly impacts bus customers in a number of ways, including journey times, reliability, satisfaction levels and the cost of their ticket.
Stagecoach has revealed that a 10% decrease in operating speed leads to an 8% rise in operating costs – and, despite the company’s attempts to protect customers as much as possible, these increased costs invariably push prices up for passengers. This can lead to fewer people taking the bus, potentially resulting in even more cars on the road.
In its letter, Stagecoach has offered to meet with elected members to talk through the local issues, traffic hotspots and potential solutions, including changes that can be made to road infrastructure and layout, traffic management systems and priority schemes.