People turning their back on buses in Lancashire
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Fewer local bus journeys are made in Lancashire than five years ago, as service coverage in the area is squeezed.
The Department for Transport says more can be done to tackle a nationwide downward trend in bus use.
In Lancashire, 40.4m bus passenger journeys were made in 2019-20 – down from 50.1m in 2014-15, the DfT’s annual bus statistics show.
This means the average resident took 2.7 local bus journeys a month in the local authority last year, compared to 3.5 in 2014-15 .
Over the same period, the number of miles clocked by local buses in the area fell, from 25.5m in 2014-15 to 19.5m in 2018-19.
Across England, there were 4.1bn bus journeys taken in 2019-20, down six per cent from 2018-19 and 12 per cent from 2014-15.
At the same time bus fares have increased more than the rate of inflation, and were up 2.5 per cent from 2018-19 last year.
The DfT says the number of bus journeys in 2019-20 was impacted by Covid-19 with restrictions imposed on March 23 and people discouraged from taking public transport.
But a spokeswoman added the five-year downward trend did show there was “more that can be done to deliver reliable and regular bus services for both new and existing passengers”.
The Campaign for Better Transport, a pressure group, said the annual bus statistics show “how bus cuts and rising fares were hitting communities hard, long before the pandemic”.
Head of media Alice Ridley said: “Travelling by public transport must be affordable and convenient to avoid car journeys escalating and non-drivers being excluded.”
Charity Bus Users says public transport must be treated by the Government and local councils in the same way as social care and education to encourage greater passenger usage and help the environment.
Director Claire Walters said: “There needs to be far more effort put into talking to communities about their travel needs, engaging with them to understand their start points and destinations and planning transport to meet those needs.”
The Government is currently drawing up a National Bus Strategy aimed at laying a platform for working with local councils and private operators to improve local bus services.
The DfT spokeswoman said: “This will build on our significant investment, which includes more than £900 million of emergency funding to keep buses moving throughout the pandemic.”