How green is bus travel?

The average bus in 2016/17 carried just 11.9 passengers. If you excluded the very crowded peak time service busies in our major towns and cities, the average figure for bus use would be considerably lower. It makes many bus services an expensive way of carrying a few people, and means there is a substantial output of exhaust gases, particulates and CO2 for the typical bus passenger. The argument for large buses is a better ratio of passengers to the cost of the driver and vehicle, but where in many cases there are insufficient passengers wanting that route at that time it obviously dearer and less environmentally friendly than a mini bus or taxi sized vehicle.

This is compounded by the fact that the average bus is 7.6 years old. That means there are still many diesel buses running on UK roads that do not meet modern standards of exhaust emission control. We see these buses discharging smoke and particulate matter as they stand at bus stops or in bus stations with engines running, or as they accelerate away from traffic lights or congestion points.

In 2016 29 cyclists and pedestrians died from accidents involving buses, and 232 people sustained serious injuries from crashes involving buses. Bus drivers usually drive safely and carefully. Many of the crashes were probably not the fault of the bus, but the bus is a large vehicle to deploy on many of our narrow and crowded streets leading to conflicts with other road users. Buses can add to congestion by their need to stop on the carriageway to drop off and pick up, and some bus lanes are designed in ways which greatly reduce the total capacity of the road which they are part of. A road of variable width can offer more traffic conflict by directing buses onto a bus lane for a short distance then back onto the narrow road, then back into the bus lane in ways which slow traffic and may cause misunderstandings and collisions.

Buses are good ways of moving lots of people in very busy urban areas at peak times, and quite good ways of moving people throughout the day in places where enough people want to use these services so they can be frequent. Outside busy places and periods it is not possible to offer a frequent bus service, given the costs of running a large bus. The lack of frequent services then reduces the numbers of people who find it potentially useful. Many people want more flexible public transport like dial a ride services executed by mini buses. Many would prefer a car based service, if it could be made affordable. These different options would also reduce the number of very large vehicles on small roads.


  1. Lifelogic
    April 9, 2018

    It is worse even than the 11.9 passenger figure you quote in reality. This does not (I think) include depot to depot journeys (or movement when out of service). Furthermore buses tend to take rather indirect routes (to try pick up more passengers) and they stop every few hundred yards blocking the roads and causing congestion for other vehicles in the process. Plus you have the need for a professional driver (who has to get to and from work too). On top of this they do not go where you need them to anyway. So often a passenger has to go A to B to C to D for a journey. Perhaps twice the actually distance of the A to D he/she wanted.

    If you have 50 people who all want to go from A to B at a certain time a bus or coach is great but this is very rarely the case.

    Furthermore they are absurdly slow for most journeys. Perhaps the most stupid thing of all was the bus stop that is intentionally designed to stick out into the road so that the bus hold up twenty odd cars and vans at each stop they make.

    People are misled as to real occupancy of buses as by definition they are more likely to be on the crowded one so they get a statistical sampling bias. As the driver to measure it over the full day as he sees the real average use.

    1. Dave Andrews
      April 9, 2018

      And then there’s the policy of placing bus stops 10 yards from traffic lights. You can see the lights are green, but you can’t get through. By the time the bus moves off, they are red again.

    2. APL
      April 9, 2018

      “Perhaps the most stupid thing of all was the bus stop that is intentionally designed to stick out into the road”

      Stupid yes. But deliberately malicious too.

      1. rose
        April 9, 2018

        What about the stupidity of bus stops which serve buses going in the same direction being put a very long way apart, making it less worthwhile to wait?

  2. Lifelogic
    April 9, 2018

    Plus we have the bus lanes that can almost half the capacity of the road at a stroke! Or rather to provide a new way to mug, delay and inconvenience motorists and workers and hit productivity hugely. Which is what actually drives the policy.

    Still Philip Hammond did scrap Prescott’s moronic M4 bus lane. So Hammond has made one sensible decision while in government!

    A shame his highest taxes and tax complexity for 40 years is doing far, far more damage than this welcome good he did.

    1. Iain Gill
      April 9, 2018

      and we have red lights stopping traffic to give way to buses in bus lanes even on a Sunday when the relevant buses are not even running! wasting energy as all those cars sitting at those red lights pollute not being able to go anywhere.

      1. hefner
        April 9, 2018

        Where? In Reading it is not true, if there is no bus in the bus lane, there is no green for bus, which would be forcing a red light on cars in a parallel lane. There is a detector checking for the presence of a bus, which gives it the priority.

        Where do you live? You should contact your town hall or whoever holds the responsibility to make sure the system is properly geared up.
        Otherwise as often it will be a case of moaning moaning moaning but not moving one’s a.. to improve things.

        1. Iain Gill
          April 9, 2018

          There is not enough time in my life to point out to the public sector all the mistakes they make, I have to prioritise and stick to the most outrageous stuff which this is nowhere near.

          1. jerry
            April 9, 2018

            @Iain Gill; “There is not enough time in my life to point out to the public sector all the mistakes they make”

            But plenty of time to have a rant about it, so it seems, sending an email to your council/country council is likely to take not much more time that having a rant on here. Fail!….

          2. hefner
            April 9, 2018

            So you spend time complaining about all sorts of things on this site, but can’t be bothered to contact by email the local counsellor in charge of urban transport. I’m sorry but I find that oh so childish.

          3. Iain Gill
            April 9, 2018

            I have emailed local councilors about much more serious stuff than this, and although I can get their agreement things are badly wrong they cannot get it changed, in many ways the system is broken

  3. Lifelogic
    April 9, 2018

    Trains are not very green either when you look at the whole picture. With staff, track maintenance, stations etc. If they are so efficient why does it cost about £169 for a one way, single ticket (for one person) from London to Manchester? This when you could send a car with seven people in it (and door to door) for about £30? About 1/40 of the cost per person.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 9, 2018

      I see that the interventionist Theresa May has now even ordered fathers “to share parental responsibility to help women in their careers!”.

      Perhaps she could tell my wife next time the drain need clearing, or the car breaks down or the electrics trip, or the lights need fixing, or the gutters need fixing or indeed almost anything needs fixing that it is her turn!

      Though my wife would probably electrocute or injure herself. Or rather more likely get (what would almost certainly be) a man in and pay him using my earning! So in effect I would be doing it anyway plus paying tax on top! My wife not know what the job entailed would probably overpay too!

      Then again T May could just shut up about things she knows not the first thing about ( which is almost everything). Then perhaps she could concentrate or getting a real Brexit, cutting taxes, going for cheap reliable energy, cutting regulations then resigning to give us a sporting chance of avoiding Corbyn!

      The idea of people like Theresa telling families how to run their affairs is as idiotic as the government telling businesses how to run theirs. She simply has not got a clue about my family arrangement or my business arrangements.

      Government cannot run even the things that it does attempt to run remotely competently. Why do they think they should tell others what to do?

      1. Leslie Singleton
        April 9, 2018

        Dear Lifelogic–She just wants us all to move Heaven and earth to try to make women identical to men. Never any answer why there are two sexes. Most men are hopeless around babies and young children, end of story.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 10, 2018

          She has quite a bit of work to do if she want them to be identical. In chess only about 2% of the top players are women. Perhaps because most women are far more sensible than to devote their lives to this game. Huge under representation in physics, further maths and computer studies too.

      2. rose
        April 9, 2018

        Every day she comes out with some further lunacy – either giving something else away to the EU or interfering with what is left of our family and business life.

  4. Mark B
    April 9, 2018

    Good morning.

    Much could be said the same of, cars and motorways, trains, trams, canals and rivers, aircraft and even pavements and cycle routes. None of them are 100% used 100% of the time. Aircraft and airlines being the slight exception of course. But that is because they are privately owned and are in competition with other airlines.

    TfL have brought out innovative schemes. Free transport over the New Year period. Free travel on buses and trams for one hour after you have paid for your initial journey and so on. All these schemes do not require additional infrastructure and / or support but, they will encourage people to use transport more as it will cost less. This is something I actually do and it saves me money and encourages me to use public transport more.

    Putting more minibuses on busy roads will not necessarily increase usage of public transport. Buses and minibuses have to be bought, maintained and properly licensed. This costs money and will not go up or down in relation with usage.

    Older buses are slowly being replaced and it is hard to find one that does not have start-stop and some sort of hybrid drive. Trams are better but costly to build and run. And not all areas benefit.

    We need to identify real need and spend monies there if needed. If there is an area that can be better done by the private sector then the private sector should put forward its proposals and finance it itself.

    1. Adam
      April 9, 2018

      Private motorists are in the private sector. Car sharing absorbs many passengers.

      Willing drivers display a destination & seat price on their vehicle, & accept hailers.

      Willing passengers hold a destination & seat price offer sign to attract any driver accepting.

      Govt should urge & assist the change for the better.

  5. duncan
    April 9, 2018

    This country’s got bigger problems than a surplus of bus provision. We have a PM whose embracing of liberal left activist issues is designed to target people like the author of this blog and many of his fellow MPs

    Bus provision is an issue of total insignificance. This PM will jump on any issue for a few greasy votes and if that means demonising white, hetero-male then so be it

    A section of this country is being sacrificed on the altar of the rebranding of my own party

  6. Bryan Harris
    April 9, 2018

    A partial answer is that bus companies use smaller busses…. and more use is made of dial a ride – so that rural communities can be served.
    Shouldn’t busses in large cities be electric by now?

    Let’s face it though – our public transport is not fit for purpose… we are still operating in a similar fashion to the 1920’s…. and no real analysis has been done of the problems as a whole – It’s time some science was applied, along with visionary innovation….(But that’s asking for far too much – where would we be if someone actually solved some of these problems?)

  7. Caterpillar
    April 9, 2018

    W.r.t. the emissions numbers, do we have total yearly emissions (of whichever ‘evil’) divided by total passenger miles for buses to compare with the same for cars. I appreciate that this would still hide detail in the averages (much like pay gap data) but I think would give a bit more information.

    (Also I guess we need to look at full lifetime of bus for production energy etc.)

  8. Peter Wood
    April 9, 2018

    Off Topic – Sorry.

    Good to see you, Dr. Redwood, standing up for the fishermen/women; according to brexitfacts. I think this is a cause for the nation to rally around, to compel the spineless cabinet to fight for the nation’s birthright. I believe the whole country can see that the fishing industry has been caused unconscionable harm by the CFP and must be reestablished and protected. It is not negotiable.

    1. rose
      April 9, 2018

      I watched the EU parliament today at Strasbourg and there were quite a few Northern Europeans and Spaniards demanding to be given the same access to our waters post Brexit. She is obviously using our fisheries to bribe them over her “free trade agreement”.

  9. Anonymous
    April 9, 2018

    Busses go into too many closes and small streets to pick up. If they did a more direct and basic route I (and many others) would probably use them.

    As it is they are worse than useless – they cause obstruction, unecessary overtaking and danger to cyclists.

    Driver Only busses hold up traffic badly while the driver handles cash.

  10. jerry
    April 9, 2018

    Mr Redwood, are you attempting to loose the the next GE for your party single handed?!

    You do realise for many a pensioner, many a young mother, many a student, the bus is their connection with the RotW so to speak, for pensioners and mothers often well outside of the peak periods – true all could use taxies but those tend to be more expensive whilst both taxies and mini-buses are not always as disabled friendly as the “low-entry” larger buses now are. Many a pensioner who has either been forced to give up driving, or has chosen to, now rely on the off-peak bus services, whilst using their free bus passes.

  11. 200 year Queuer
    April 9, 2018

    I am informed the first omnibus route was between Pendleton and Manchester in 1824. It is nearly two hundred years and the Government can’t seem to get the hang of it.

  12. Ron Olden
    April 9, 2018

    Buses, especially rural ones, are remarkably ‘un-green’.

    It would be MUCH ‘greener’ to provide some travellers with a taxi service, and, if it were possible to restrict the usage to people who would have gone on the bus anyway (which obviously it isn’t), it would also be cheaper to give them a taxi for the same price they would have paid on the bus.

    The economics and carbon footprint of buses however, are not that easy to quantify. You have to look at the costs and receipts of the regional bus business in its’ entirety.

    Whilst it’s true that its only the heavily used routes at peak times which cover their costs, the capital cost of the bus the garaging and the back office staff, has thus been incurred, and it’s available for use at quieter times, for little more than the cost of the driver and fuel.

    And you might be stuck with the driver anyway because people won’t come to drive buses for a couple of hours twice a day. You also usually have to move the buses somewhere strategically appropriate to make the routes work, and to transport the driver back to where he started.

    So despite fact the fact that some routes appears to make a huge loss at certain times you are gaining by just picking up one passenger.

    Apart from that, there’s no point in keeping a depreciating asset in the shed.

    Running the bus even when there’s hardly any passengers, is also necessary to maintain the integrity of the route. Someone for example might not be willing to go somewhere on the bus at peak time, if they are unable to come home at a time when the bus is unprofitable.

  13. Alan
    April 9, 2018

    Buses are essential in most urban areas for commuting. Even if car travel were free it would be impossible to get everyone to work by car; there just isn’t enough room on the roads for all those cars. If you think buses are obstructing your car as you drive to work, just imagine how much obstruction you would get if everyone in the bus used a taxi.

    Given that we have to have the buses for commuting, the question is whether to go on using them during the non-commuting periods. They may be uneconomic in those periods, but still be better value than using taxis and private cars. I don’t know whether that is true, but superficially it would seem to be cheaper to go on using the buses in non-commuting periods rather than taking a taxi.

  14. The boss
    April 9, 2018

    Spare a thought today for the French traveller. Another two days of the ongoing rail strike and their buses, green or otherwise, will probably be coining it. But one imagines they just have not got the buses required or drivers.
    France is like the UK was with the unions holding everyone to ransom.Why don’t they do as we did in the UK? Bribe union leaders with cushy lucrative interfaces in the running Socialist Party. Give the nearest and dearest relations of union trouble makers party positions or lucrative positions in Local Authorities. It worked here!

  15. Know-Dice
    April 9, 2018

    ” Perhaps the most stupid thing of all was the bus stop that is intentionally designed to stick out into the road so that the bus hold up twenty odd cars and vans at each stop they make.”

    Too true…certainly Reading Council have no interest in making traffic move smoothly.

  16. David Murfin
    April 9, 2018

    We have a bus service using a 12-14 seater minibus into (and 4 hours later out of) the nearest town. It stops in each village, the stops being rather more than a few hundred yards apart.
    It runs twice a week. In 10 years I’ve used it twice, my wife never. Beyond the first couple of stops nearest town, it was not half full.

  17. Adam
    April 9, 2018

    High people-density that causes the nuisance, even in countries with low population. Too many attractions are too close together to enable smooth movement.

    Figure 8-shaped bus-dedicated roads assist fluidity & reach. Buses follow in continuous circuits. Some passenger journeys may be longer, but faster & greener. Mutually-conflicting traffic paths are minimised, freeing cars.

  18. Epikouros
    April 9, 2018

    When we eventually introduce driverless vehicles many of the problems you have highlighted will disappear. Large buses will for certain which will be more than compensated by the appearance of more minibuses and hire cars. That will act like taxis(that will be far more affordable than they are now) reducing considerably the need for private ownership of cars. There will be fewer vehicles on the roads as they will be used more efficiently making multiple journeys catering for the bulk of the many individual needs. Unlike now as one individual vehicle spends little time transporting as most of it is being spent stationary and parked up taking up unproductively space and often presenting obstacles to other vehicles.

    Currently most of our road systems are a mess and not fit for purpose, the cost of rectification being prohibitively expenses so that only slowly bit by bit can some improvements be achieved. There are a number of reasons nearly all falling under the category of bad planning which unusually the fault cannot all be laid at the door of the politicians and bureaucrats. In fact quite often(not always as sometimes they make things worse) they do a reasonable job under very difficult circumstances that they have inherited. It is past decisions which to be fair were correct for the time and place when and where they were made that we are now having to deal with the damaging consequences. Not being able to see far into the future they could not plan ahead so as to cater for changing road use that required greater capacity and design to allow traffic to flow smoothly and uninterrupted.

  19. The Prangwizard
    April 9, 2018

    For all the outcry there was when the local bus service was withdrawn from serving the village where I live and those around, the fact remains it was very poorly used. ‘Protests’ are somewhat manufactured in such and similar cases to serve the priorities of the ‘meeja’.

    I would urge the increased adoption of tram systems wherever possible in far more of our towns and suburbs. Space for them should be designed into new development areas. It’s the kind of expenditure that could be financed from the saving we will make if we ever leave the EU, were the money not being planned to be wasted on the likes of the NHS.

    1. Iain Gill
      April 9, 2018

      trams are a waste of money, look at edinburgh and sheffield

      in the north east the metro system does not do anything the buses and trains were not doing better before it was built

  20. Geoff not Hoon
    April 9, 2018

    I live in Snowdonia, it is difficult to be more rural. Here we have some of the oldest and largest buses running with just 2 0r 3 passengers even on peak Summer days. The subsidies to the companies involved to run such vehicles must be enormous but why should they care when the money just keeps coming. Why smaller vehicles such as the Indian Tutu are not considered beats me when I know they are in use in London. Years ago Royal Mail used their Minibus’s to both deliver mail and operate as a bus. It may still be in use but not in my area. I could do the job myself if I still had my motorbike and sidecar and it would cost one hell of a lot less.

  21. Peter
    April 9, 2018

    God Bless the London bus service!

    I have an app that tells me when the next one will arrive at my bus stop. The London bus takes me to town centres with double yellow lines, no entry signs and awkward and expensive parking. I can linger as long as I fancy without the need to decide in advance how much to put in a parking meter.

    My service runs 24 hours a day,7 days a week.

    Many people live in busy cities so buses will become even more essential.
    In rural areas people are left to their own devices, without public transport or good shopping and other facilities nearby. All very well if you accept that and are in good health and able to drive. Not so good for the incapacitated or youngsters.

  22. Peter A
    April 9, 2018

    I live in SW London and I am very grateful for some of the bus services, especially since I am lucky to have an OAP’s free travel card (so I don’t use my old diesel runabout so much). My regular bus route is never less than 1/2 full. At school times buses get very overcrowded. However there is one local bus which has to negotiate residential roads with cars parked on both sides, this bus is actually almost always empty. It is a hail and ride service running from a small branchline station to a remote hospital on a very roundabout route, very odd. When I worked in West Africa many years ago there were hundreds of brightly coloured minibuses doing hail and ride services, seemed to work very well there.

    1. Peter
      April 9, 2018

      London buses are usually carrying a good number of passengers. In the rush hour there may be 70 on a double decker. 70 people in cars during the rush hour would be about 50 vehicles. Hence traffic jams and a crawling pace.

      I never bother with the hoppa buses that go around the back streets though. I prefer the direct routes. Between 3pm to 7pm the school run extends into the rush hour so I avoid travel at those times or use the trains and Tube instead.

      1. Lifelogic
        April 9, 2018

        You impression is wrong you are just catching the busy busses as people tend to. Sit on one all day and you will see average occupancy more like 10 or even less.

        1. Peter
          April 9, 2018

          You are the one in the wrong. I have been catching London buses for most of my life – at all hours. They are usually fairly busy. Certainly far more than the 11.9 people quoted as being an average load. Often people have to stand – and I avoid the rush hour.

          So don’t try to tell me what I see every day.

          If it does not fit in with your idealised world of happy motorists being thwarted by empty buses that is just too bad.

  23. Kenneth
    April 9, 2018

    I believe we should be putting our efforts into bringing in driver-less mini busses which can take a bespoke route according to demand

  24. Lifelogic
    April 9, 2018

    Years ago there used to be an advert on posters all over London saying something like “One Red Bus is Greener than 56 Cars – it was surely a complete and utter lie comparing capacity of the bus yet putting only about 1 in each car, but the authorities did nothing about it.

  25. JimS
    April 9, 2018

    At least buses have the potential to be re-routed, unlike ‘prestige’ tram systems.

    Some local authorities clearly use buses as a weapon against other road users. Near me is a two-lane dual-carriageway that has been systematically destroyed by the LA with parking bays, hatching and short bus lanes. One of these operates a traffic light ‘to allow buses to get to the head of the queue’. The ‘nice’ bus drivers stay in the right-hand lane to avoid tripping the light. Cyclists and ‘nasty’ bus drivers move left and stop all following traffic, including the buses behind!

    Road management should be taken away from LAs and given to contractors paid for reducing congestion and improving traffic flow.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2018

      Indeed trams are hugely expensive and very inflexible. Just buses but stuck on one route.

  26. Denis Cooper
    April 9, 2018

    While you are discussing buses, JR, Remoaners are working to keep us in the EU so that our transport policy can continue to be conditioned, if not controlled, by the EU:

    Their latest propaganda effort being a “turning point” opinion poll allegedly showing that for the first time a majority of Britons now want a referendum on the final Brexit deal, the offered alternative being that the UK would stay in the EU:

    “Commenting on the polling results, CEO of Best for Britain Eloise Todd said:

    “The possibility of Brexit is sharpening the British public’s minds, and now there is a decisive majority in favour of a final say for the people of our country on the terms of Brexit. This poll is a turning point moment.

    “The only democratic way to finish this process is to make sure the people of this country – not MPs across Europe – have the final say, giving them an informed choice on the two options available to them: the deal the government brings back and our current terms.

    “We now need MPs across Parliament, from Corbyn’s front bench to the moderates of the Conservative party to do what’s best for Britain and back a people’s vote on the terms.””

    Well, just on the bare facts of the opinion poll:

    it is true that when one set of 813 respondents were asked whether or not the public should have “a final say” on the negotiated Brexit deal 44% did indeed say that they should, while 36% said that they should not – the numbers that are being quoted across the media, for example:

    But when a different set of 823 respondents from the same overall sample were asked a slightly different question, that is whether or not there should be “a public vote” on the final deal, the result was that 45% said there should NOT be a public vote while only 39% said that there should be a public vote, that is to say a referendum … so the report as sent out to the media is a lie, the survey did not in fact find a majority in favour of “a people’s vote on the terms”, let alone a “decisive” majority.

    And as for the alternative offered, in the survey question it is Britain “… remains in the EU after all”, but in the directly quoted statement from Eloise Todd that is embellished to continued EU membership being on “… our current terms”.

    However there is no guarantee that the EU would even agree that we should be permitted to rescind our Article 50 TEU withdrawal notice and stay in the EU, let alone that we should be generously allowed to continue on our current terms of membership despite all the trouble we had caused them, the second of the two options which this bunch of liars claims would be available to us.

    1. Know-Dice
      April 9, 2018


      I don’t particularly want a vote on the “Brexit Deal”, as I believe that this weakens the Government’s negotiating hand…but, as the current rhetoric seems to be that May wants a “bad deal” rather than “no deal” or even a “good deal”, may be I should change my mind…?

    2. stred
      April 9, 2018

      It would have been impossible for most contributors to this blog to answer the qhestions as given in the poll. There was no option to reject May’s capitulation terms and ridiculous payments to enable them to sell us more than we sell them. Accept defeat or rejoin seems like a choice written by the Chairman of the Committee for Capitulating to and Rejoining the EU.

    3. L Jones
      April 9, 2018

      ”Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

  27. Cliff. Wokingham
    April 9, 2018

    A few years ago, the fuel tax reduction was taken away from bus companies, this was despite government saying they wanted people to get out of their cars and onto public transport. This measure alone put huge costs onto bus operators.
    All the new green and accessibility regulations also bumped up costs.
    The simple reason why bus loadings are down, is simply because bus travel is so expensive.
    Many of us don’t drive and therefore need reliable public transport. I must say though, if I had to pay the fare rather than use my pass, I would stay in.

    The fundamental problem in our country is too much government at all levels. The government needs to govern the country rather than manage the people….there is a difference.

  28. a-tracy
    April 9, 2018

    Our town gets all the old, dirty, polluting double-decker buses with one or two passengers using the service all day long I would guess from main City services that this bus type can no longer do because they’re always breaking down, this bus service must be heavily subsidised. Using large town buses on small housing estates with narrow roads isn’t necessary at all and is wasting fuel. The investment in new eco-friendly buses the town got when the new route to the hospital was put on were soon taken off duty and used elsewhere by the bus company and now we have these large buses sat outside our homes with the engines running puffing out smoke unnecessarily, clogging up the roads, making it difficult to get out of the cul-de-sacs and to pass and making it dangerous for children.

    If these routes were private sector they would be in smaller, energy efficient vehicles. We should be looking to technology at bus stops to improve round robin services in rural areas so that the buses don’t do unnecessary mileage this could also improve a once per hour service, more dial and rides, utilising taxi services to collect more than one passenger at a time on mobility recharged services. If the large bus services won’t move with the times you should look at Uber type technology to effect the changes.

    1. acorn
      April 9, 2018

      Bus services were privatised by the Transport Act 1985. For those “free marketeers” on this site; wanting big government spending to be quashed; perhaps you should send back your Bus passes?

      1. a-tracy
        April 9, 2018

        I agree but the companies get paid whether their rubbish service is used or not, how much are they subsidised per passenger? Maybe we should have the equivalent of a smart card bus pass like the Oyster cards in London and only pay for the journeys made.

        1. acorn
          April 11, 2018

          Smart Card, we already have that in Hampshire.

  29. Iain Gill
    April 9, 2018

    Well this is an interesting post John. Like a lot of other “green” measures their impact is often not good for the planet when the consequences are taken into account.
    So for instance measures to make car exhausts less polluting have in many cases made the cars need more repairs and maintenance over their lifespan. Extra time in the garage costs fuel to heat and power the garage, to get the workers to that business, to get the car in for the repair or maintenance. If stuff like this was taken into account we would be taxing a whole different set of cars less, than the ones currently taxed the least.
    Same with electric trains v diesel trains, the comparisons rarely take into account the environmental impact of installation and repair of the power lines, or the increased disruptions as the railway grinds to a half if one line fails in bad weather.
    Or “speed humps”, cause far more back injuries and so on and far more injuries than they are supposedly reducing.
    The problem is the bias, lack of scientific education, and so on, of the people making these approaches up, and the tendency for political elites to follow fashions and not have the tools to examine critically and make their own minds up, their studies tend to produce the results they want.

  30. ian wragg
    April 9, 2018

    Busses are loved by all the socialist parties including Mays government. They dislike the independence and choice that private motor vehicles offer.
    If you had to depend on public transport probably 50% of the population wouldn’t be able to get to work on time.
    We now have the dash for electric vehicles without the infrastructure or power capacity to charge them. Why is it that government always seems to back losers.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 9, 2018

      Why is it that government always seems to back losers.

      It is not their money so they do not care if it is “a loser”. It is not they who are losing. They get their salary and gold plated pensions regardless. So they just go with the green crap, gender pay drivel or whatever is the fashion of the time!

  31. Peter Cartwright
    April 9, 2018

    Most buses have diesel engines, belching out oxides of nitrogen, to the detriment of public health.

  32. IwasGnarth
    April 9, 2018

    As an ex-driver I can verify the low passenger count and even (in an admittedly rural/coastal location) drove a number of shifts without encountering a single customer. Empty buses early in the morning and after the evening rush are not uncommon at all. Just an observation: In Switzerland, where I once lived, suburban buses were replaced by taxis operating the same route and timetable after 20h00.

  33. Bob
    April 9, 2018

    I have yet to see a more efficient, flexible, integrated and affordable public transport system than Hong Kong’s. Mayor Livingstone copied the Oyster card system from them.

    At one time when there was a technical problem on the trains, taxi drivers spontaneously organised cab sharing to move thousands of stranded passengers quickly, cheaply and efficiently to their destinations.

    They have a mix of double decker and minibuses depending on the demand for given routes, and most impressive of all is the way they manage to locate the bus stations and taxi ranks adjacent to the rail stations and ferry terminals, it’s almost as if it were designed by intelligent beings.

    Another innovation they have is bus stops that allow the bus to pull off of the road to drop or pick up passengers thereby allowing other traffic to keep moving.

    All this in a tiny crowded place like Hong Kong.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2018

      Much we can learn from Hong Kong. Government spending at 12% of GDP (more like 45% here with a dreadful value services) and their cheaper health system works well with better life expectancy too.

  34. English Pensioner
    April 9, 2018

    It is easy to criticise buses, but without them there would be a lot of people who would effectively be confined to their homes. There are also those who need them to get to work particularly town shop workers, who even if they own a car can’t afford all-day parking!.

    I can still drive at my age, but probably for not much longer, and at least there is a bus within a couple of hundred yards so I can get to town and the shops. Otherwise I would be stuck or reliant on taxis. Admittedly, we’d be better off than our parents, at least we can order our groceries and many other things on-line.

    Which raises another interesting topic, how green are all these white vans running around delivering internet purchases?

    1. Peter
      April 9, 2018

      Well said.

      A Conservative once stated that anyone using a bus over the age of thirty was a failure.

      So don’t expect much support on here.

    2. Yucky green
      April 9, 2018

      “… how green are all these white vans running around delivering internet purchases?”
      greener than a pile of horse dung every hundred yards for toddlers to fall into and play with.

      1. a-tracy
        April 9, 2018

        Greener than 50 individuals cars going to collect what most delivery rounds accomplish in a single day.

  35. Prigger
    April 9, 2018

    Off topic
    I never felt an urge to go around stabbing people when police numbers are reduced.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 9, 2018

      Rudd is right in that there are plenty of police and police resources. Alas very few of the police we have are doing the right things or tackling the right types of crimes. Perhaps she could address that?

    2. Anonymous
      April 9, 2018

      Nor is there any excuse to turn to crime when housed for free in the jobs capital of Europe.

    3. L Jones
      April 9, 2018

      Yes, isn’t it always the way that it’s never the reprobates that are directly blamed, but they are given the excuse that it’s because of some other factor out of their control?

    4. a-tracy
      April 9, 2018

      Weren’t we told that extra investments into pcsos locally would aid local policing. Sold as ‘Everyday, PCSOs are out in the community, providing a high profile, uniformed presence. They play an essential role in preventing crime, gathering intelligence, and reassuring the public.’

      The British public just said they don’t have sufficient powers, they won’t work, do London, Manchester, Birmingham and other Cities with rising knife crime have them? How many? At what cost? If they’re not working perhaps this money should be redirected into proper policing again, whilst you’re at it get rid of the police commissioners and put the money back into proper Police.

    5. Bob
      April 9, 2018

      I had another attempted break in over the Easter hols. The thieves smashed a hole through the wall but triggered the alarm in the process.

      Police didn’t bother to attend as they’re too busy with their hate crimes (aka thought crimes).

      1. Bill
        April 10, 2018

        Police didn’t bother to attend as they’re too busy with….hate crimes (aka thought crimes).

        Putin has launched chemical attacks on Salsbury and Syria. Wake up people! He is also anti gay rights (and should be investigated by the Police for his Right wing views).

  36. Denis Cooper
    April 9, 2018

    Meanwhile, UK and EU officials, sometimes known as “sherpas” as I recall, meet again today to try to work out a new plan for the ascent of the massive mountain that the EU has insisted on unnecessarily creating from the molehill of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    “The British side is suggesting that regulatory “equivalence” on both sides of the Border would ensure livestock, food and pharmaceuticals checks could remain the same, with veterinary and phytosanitary checks continuing to be executed on-site in farms and food processing plants.

    However, they are also insisting on the future right to diverge from EU law, which the EU fears could open the floodgates to chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef if the UK agrees a free-trade deal with the US that includes agriculture.

    It is understood the EU does not accept standards would be maintained by a voluntary alignment and is unwilling to make an exception for Ireland just to ensure an open Border.”

    Right, so there we are, the EU believes that once out of the EU and its Single Market and the jurisdiction of the EU’s Court of Justice the untrustworthy UK might allow rubbish to be sent across that border, even if it had solemnly promised to do its best to make sure that nothing the EU would regard as rubbish was ever sent across that border.

    Presumably even if the UK Parliament replaced the relevant parts of its present EU Single Market legislation with a new law to ensure that nothing the EU might regard as rubbish would be sent across the border – let us say, the Export Controls (European Union) Act 2018 – the EU would still refuse to accept that as an adequate guarantee.

    Apparently that is what they think of us, so it is just as well that we are leaving and getting out from under their thumb.

    1. acorn
      April 9, 2018

      Denis, would your new UK law, also apply to all other borders (land; sea and air) the UK has with other WTO members (most favoured nation rules)?

      Could your new law, if accepted by the EU, force the EU, again under WTO rules, to apply it to all its other borders with WTO members?

      1. Denis Cooper
        April 10, 2018

        No, obviously not, it could be the first in a series of UK export control laws but it would only apply to exports to the EU. That is why the suggested short title of the new Act would refer to “Export Controls” in general but then narrow it down to exports to the EU, and quite possibly in particular just to the exports to the EU across the Irish land border which are being held up as a critical problem.

        There is no reason in reality or in any WTO rule why either the UK or the EU should adopt the same kind of border controls for trade with all its different partners, and in fact Article 7.4 of the new Trade Facilitation Agreement requires WTO members to carry out risk assessments to decide on the level of controls which are appropriate in each case.

        “4.4 Each Member shall base risk management on an assessment of risk through appropriate selectivity criteria. Such selectivity criteria may include, inter alia, the Harmonized System code, nature and description of the goods, country of origin, country from which the goods were shipped, value of the goods, compliance record of traders, and type of means of transport.”

  37. Mactheknife
    April 9, 2018

    In my area the main bus service providers seem to have reduced the number of services they provide, particularly at less busy times of day. However this void seems to have been filled by independent coach operators, who are still running with empty buses. Perhaps this has something to do with the approximately £5 -6M in subsidies provided by the county council ? If subsidies were removed, how many bus services would survive ?

    I travel on the motorways countrywide each day for work and the biggest issue is congestion, mainly caused by the 40% increase in HGV traffic over the last few years. Mainly down to internet shopping and next day delivery services apparently. What to do about this John ?

  38. MPC
    April 9, 2018

    On the subject of Green, I read that the OBR has confirmed that green subsidies in 2018-19 will amount to £11.2 bn, up £2bn from last year representing a rise in average electricity bills of about 5%; Environmental Levies now accounting for about a quarter of bills.

  39. stred
    April 9, 2018

    When I try to take a bus, it usually doesn’t arrive on time and I finish up walking. I don’t have a bus pass but I find that almost all the other passengers have discounts or free passes. When I offered to pay the £5 fare tp go about 2 miles, the driver kindly said he didn’t want it as my decrepitude was enough.

  40. Thomas Dillon
    April 9, 2018

    Unfortunately there seems to be a strong anti-car bias throughout government, with the ratchet of congestion-causing measures, cost and inconvenience being continually turned in the supposed interests of a green agenda. One wonders how many council traffic staff actually drive regularly.

    Cars are a good thing and a vital resource, not a problem to be attacked.

    Congestion is essentially a voluntarily-incurred cost. If you prefer to sit in the car in a jam rather than use a crowded train or ‘bus, that is your choice. The reduction of congestion should not be pursued as a self-justifying objective.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2018

      Cars are a good thing and a vital resource, not a problem to be attacked indeed so are fossil fuels, trucks, plastic and planes!

      Congestion is not very “voluntary” if you have a job to do and will not get paid if you do not do it.

  41. Sakara Gold
    April 9, 2018

    It can be fairly green. Ariva run the buses in my area. Ariva have invested in over 250 hybrid buses nationwide and have ordered another 300. They are highly efficient; what makes these buses different is that both power units can work independently, or together.

    When the bus accelerates away from a bus stop, the electric motor works alone and uses the stored energy in the battery to power the bus. During this time, the diesel engine is not utilised – saving fuel, removing emissions and reducing noise pollution.

    Only when the bus reaches speeds of approximately 10mph does the small diesel engine start and in that instance, it will work in conjunction with the electric motor to power the vehicle – the battery has an opportunity to recharge during braking. Over 250 hybrid vehicles are currently in operation on routes across the country. These include:

    Arriva Yorkshire – Routes 163 and 166 Castleford to Leeds via Kippax, Garforth and Cross Gates
    Arriva North East – Route 308 through Blyth town centre
    Arriva North West – Route 10 between Manchester and Salford
    Arriva North West – Merseyside cross river routes 407, 432, 433, 437, 464, 472 and night services 23, 37, between Liverpool and the Wirral via the Mersey Tunnel
    Arriva The Shires – Route 71 from Maidstone

    Ariva are currently trialing fully electric buses for use in Greater London. They are doing their bit to make the air breathable again in Oxford Street or Hyde Park Corner. Apparently Sadiq Khan loves them

  42. stred
    April 9, 2018

    Off subject, Mrs May has been speaking in Denmark with their PM. She was given an absolute gift of a question by a journalist who said she always noticed the Danish bacon and butter in supermarkets in London and how could we ensure that Danish products would still be exported. Also, had she changed her mind about Brexit since the referendum.

    Now most people in favour of Brexit might have said, “Thankyou. The UK has said from the start of the process that we are seeking an free trade agreement with zero tariffs and no non tariff restriction to slow down trade” and “I am in favour of Brexit”. But she didn’t. She waffled on about looking for an agreement and mentioned security, which presumably is what the EU wants, as we will be paying more than they do for it.

    She really must be the most useless PM barring none, except possibly the Major dunce who would draw.

    1. Minor
      April 9, 2018

      Don’t you run down Major. He would have won hands down. No problemo!

      1. Lifelogic
        April 10, 2018

        I do not know May is actually running him close. And Major did have the excuse of being extremely dim. But then I suppose May has that too despite getting into Oxford to read Geography she clearly has no understanding of the gender pay statistics, how private industry works or the value of lower simper taxes and fewer regulations. Nor how to write a manifesto.

  43. Man of Kent
    April 9, 2018

    Have just been out to lunch in the rural Weald of Kent AONB .
    Two double decker buses spotted totally empty at bus stops and a further one on the move also empty .

    I have a Kent bus pass , but only use it in London as local journey times are too long .

    There must be room to rationalize the existing arrangements to give an on demand service to those dependent on buses .

  44. Bob
    April 9, 2018

    I read again today that the Prime Minister refuses to say whether or not she has changed her mind since campaigning for Remain. I suppose this is why we are seeing this half hearted half baked half in half out approach to Brexit.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2018

      What a pathetic leader she is, zero vision, robotic delivery, an appalling chancellor and a broken compass!

  45. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    April 9, 2018

    Smaller buses may be the answer for off peak times. It is often road works which cause public transport congestion.In my local area road signs informed us that road works would start on the 19th March. It is only today that the work has started, so I decide to use an alternative route but then I find that work has stopped flow here too. One day I will collect my free bus pass , but at present am still able to drive.

  46. ian
    April 9, 2018

    Cost 110 pound this year keep my car on the road, not including insurance. Stockmarket correction won’t be over until may/ june this year, all on first 3 month GDP, If GDP is not to bad, will reach a low in may.

  47. mike fowle
    April 9, 2018

    Well, I got my bus pass a few years ago and love it. I don’t have to worry about parking or driving into my local town. I have got to know the times of my local buses – there’s even a service which stops at the town hospital. I am very grateful for the bus service and would willing pay a small flat rate charge for it.

  48. Ian Pennell
    April 9, 2018

    If you really want to reduce the carbon footprint of buses how about investing much more in electric buses- and nuclear to provide the electricity that will be required for them?

    Another possibility is a big push in rail-investment- upgrade the entire network, re-open the old branch lines closed by Mr Beeching and electrify them. Then you need electric-powered trains to run on them. In towns and cities invest more in trams and tram-lines. This will reduce the need for buses and bring down car journeys, which will reduce CO2 emissions over time.

  49. lojolondon
    April 9, 2018

    Very good point, John, and it exposes how the badly the government has tackled this suituation. The government identified ‘old vehicles’ as a key source of pollution and is massively increasing taxes, not on wealthy individuals who own the latest cars, but the poorest people who own the cheapest cars.
    Most people will typically drive to and from work, for example, let’s say 30 minutes each way. But a bus with a far higher pollution engine is used 24 hours a day, every day, with drivers taking shifts on the vehicle. But the government does not tax buses, in fact encourages their use.
    So you can see that the whole ‘pollution attack’ story is total garbage, every successive government seems to look for any reason to tax private individuals, specifically the least polluting individuals with oldest, cheapest cars, while ignoring the highest polluting vehicles that probably run for 23 hours a day more each.

  50. nigel seymour
    April 9, 2018

    Why is Trump doing exactly what the US people voted for and why are people saying he is off his rocker?
    Do we just accept Russia trying to hold the rest of the world to political ransom?
    Does the UN keep accepting Russia’s veto on everything?
    Does the world keep watching the situation in Syria?

    A 5 star general was interviewed this am on r4…he stated that Syria had 6 air force installations that should be hit and destroyed…r4 said ‘what if the Russians don’t agree?’…5 star said ‘we should tell the Russians what we plan to do and give them notice to get their citizens out of the bases, if they don’t then they will have to take the consequences…

    OK WITH ME…………

  51. Fedupsoutherner
    April 9, 2018

    I’d like to know how big the carbon footprint is to service all these bio fuel installations. Those near to us have a continuous fleet of lorries and tractors delivering wood etc to run them. Just how green is it all really?

  52. Andy
    April 9, 2018

    Certainly we should look at bus travel. I am in favour of scrapping free travel for pensioners – and introducing free travel for children, students and single parents instead. That would massively boost numbers.

    1. mancunius
      April 10, 2018

      Children below the age of five travel free. In London they can travel free up to the age of 11, if accompanied by an adult.

      Children between 5 and 16 qualify for free school transport if they go to their nearest suitable school and live at least 2 miles from the school if they’re under 8, or
      3 miles from the school if they’re 8 or older.

      Students (e.g. in London) have 30% discounted bus and underground travel-passes, as well as generous rail and airfare discounts.

      Benefits recipients have heavily discounted local bus travel. Those in work do not need free transport: all that would do is push wages down still further, and increase taxation.

      UK Pensioners have on average the lowest state pension of any developed country. An OECD study, reported on 5th December 2017: ‘a typical British worker will at retirement receive a state pension and other benefits worth around 29% of what they had previously been earning, compared with 63% in other OECD countries, and 80% in Italy and the Netherlands.’ [The Guardian]

      But don’t let facts get in the way of a resentful rant. 🙂

  53. ian
    April 9, 2018

    Three words, closest possible links. that all i hear.

  54. The Prangwizard
    April 9, 2018

    Why is it Mr Redwood, that the leader you support so much is unable to say she is favour of Brexit and dodges questions asking her to make her view clear? Every time she is asked a question on it she doesn’t like she gives the impression of being invisibly punched in the jaw. It is a serious personality defect.

  55. Raymond
    April 9, 2018

    Bus services are vital to people, mainly the less well off, who do not have access to a car. There is scope for more flexible public transport such as Dial-a-Ride. The problem is finance. Public transport is a public service whereas it is currently run, to a large extent, for private profit; whereas there isn’t money in running bus services as a social service. there is a balance to be struck in terms of social net benefit vis-a-vis commerciality. I think bus de-regulation in 1986 was a mistake.

  56. Darren Brice
    April 9, 2018

    TRAMS !! Where the hell are they .They are used in Manchester , Leeds , Sheffield which are very successful why not use these clean vehicles in all towns and cities.Keep mini buses for outskirts and rural areas. These trams can be fitted with solar panels to generate extra free electric then excess energy back to the grid.When peak times are over then take off half the carriages for off peak then reconnect for peak times. Diesel buses are running approximately
    18 hours a day and rarely turned off in that time.Just take a look at Oxford street at any time during the day and you can count 20 buses at least , this is madness . stop picking on diesel car drivers and reduce diesel usage .Politicians wake up ! TRAMS TRAMS TRAMS .

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2018

      “Trams can be fitted with solar panels to generate extra free electric then excess energy back to the grid” – well you can do but they are expensive and you get very, very little electricity from them – especially in places like cloudy northern Manchester!

      Trams are buses stuck on one route expensive and very inflexible. Tubes make more sense as at least they do not block the roads.

  57. rose
    April 9, 2018

    Some of our buses are horribly full, with pushchairs and wheelchairs not able to fit on first time; while others are almost empty. I don’t know what the answer is to this as it doesn’t seem to depend on the time of day – though obviously rush hours are impossible all round.

  58. Judge Dredge
    April 9, 2018

    When we and the Germans were gassing each other the Syrians couldn’t be bothered bombing us so we owe them nothing/ nichts!!!!

  59. Mr Stupid
    April 10, 2018

    That Assad is a strange character – everytime he has a big victory over the terrorists in Syria he shoots himself in the foot by launching a chemical attack and begging US intervention.

    All our enemies are a bit like that these days, has anyone else noticed?

  60. a-tracy
    April 12, 2018

    So suddenly bus travel and free buses for under 25’s is all over the news. How this is good for anyone outside a major city needs explaining. So our rural road spending which is already paltry and potholes not filled are now going to be starved of more funds to spend in London whilst Labour buy twenties votes with promises of jam tomorrow (IF) they get elected in a majority in four years time.

    Why are over 60’s getting free bus and tube fares – cut this immediately – why the hell should working, wealthy Londoners get free travel? If they can afford to retire early then they can afford to buy their travel. It is beyond me how out in the sticks we aren’t told Londoners get this perk.

    Is it only vehicle excise duty collected in London that is going to be spent on London free buses for everyone under 25? I hope so and I’d like that confirming. Our under 25’s will be so pleased to get a free bus taking one hour to do a 15 minute run!

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