In our latest blog James analyses Greener Journey’s report into the socio-economic benefits of bus travel and how its findings can help improve the provision of inclusive and accessible transport throughout the UK.
Every day of the year community transport operators work to provide inclusive and accessible transport to people in their communities. Whether that is taking people to the shops, medical appointments, or other social events. This work is invaluable but importantly for policy makers its impacts are also measurable.
In their latest report The Value of Buses to Society, Greener Journeys with KPMG LLP and Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, have set out the broader socio-economic benefits of bus travel.
In this report Greener Journeys describe bus travel as an ‘enabler.’ It enables people to move out of poverty through better access to employment opportunities, it enables greater connectivity, growth and social inclusion, and it enables people to improve their prospects for the future.
Framing the report in terms of the government’s rhetoric on the UK being ‘a country that works for everyone,’ Greener Journeys argue that policy makers should look at the bus as a good place to start in reducing socio-economic inequalities. The report highlights that:
‘A 10% improvement in local bus service connectivity is associated with a 3.6% reduction in deprivation as measured by the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).’
‘KPMG has estimated that wider social impacts add over 30% to the benefit-cost ratio of bus investments’
‘Bus users create more than £64 billion worth of goods and services’
‘Every £1 spent on investment in local bus priority measures can deliver up to £7 of net economic benefit’
As Greener Journeys rightly point out the social case for the bus is ‘unarguable.’ Community transport users are often the most excluded from work and social opportunities due to their rural location, age, or disability. Therefore this report is an important tool in explaining the value of the community transport sector to policy makers.
It is important that when we discuss the economic value of community transport we reflect some of the language used in this report. We know from the people who use community transport that the services community transport operators provide are invaluable, this report gives us greater opportunity to show that value.
This report also gives us a tool to argue for the benefits of integrated transport. As the Bus Services Bill works its way through Parliament and Total Transport Pilots pick up steam this report will inform our thinking on two of the most exciting opportunities for community transport in recent years.
As this report highlights it is time we talk about the wider social impacts of bus transport. When we talk about bus travel as social necessity as well an economic one the story of community transport becomes more powerful. When we look beyond narrow definitions of the economic benefit of transport community transport looks like an even more vital part of the transport network.
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