bristolpost.– Bristol’s buses are among the worst in the country for arriving on time – and they’ve been getting worse for years.
According to new data published by the Department for Transport, routes with five or fewer buses arriving at a stop every hour – known as ‘non-fequent’ buses – did not arrive on time 28 per cent of the time in 2018/19.
This makes Bristol the third worst local authority in the country, coming in behind Leicestershire and Dorset.
Roughly one out of every six non-frequent buses in England (17 per cent) arrived at their stops late during 2018/19, but across the city of Bristol that figure is around three in every 10 (28 per cent).
A transport watchdog says delays are caused by rising traffic and congestion, and called for more bus lanes to combat it.
Bristol’s buses have become worse over the past five years at arriving at stops on time.
In 2014/15, 74 per cent of buses arrived on time compared to the recent figure of 72 per cent.
It is also worse than nearby North Somerset, which saw 79 per cent of its buses arrive on time during 2018/19, or four out of every five.
That area is also getting worse for buses being on time, dropping five percentage points from 2017/18 to 2018/19.
Alice Ridley, head of media and communications at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Rising traffic congestion in many towns and cities is causing delays to buses.
“We need more bus lanes and other bus priority measures so that buses can travel more smoothly.
“This will trigger a virtuous circle, tempting drivers out of their cars and onto speedier more reliable buses: a win for everyone.”
At the regional level, bus service punctuality varied between 82 per cent and 89 per cent during the 2018/19 period, with the worst region being the West Midlands.
The best region was the North East.
At the local authority level there was greater variation ranging between 63 per cent and 97 per cent.
The number of local bus passenger journeys in England fell by 238 million or 6 per cent to 4.07 billion in the year ending March 2020.
Rob Pymm, Commercial Director First West of England said: “Before the first lockdown we were acutely aware of the impact of increasing congestion in Bristol and surrounding areas on the ability of our services to keep to their scheduled timetables.
“Improvements to our services and fleet, including the introduction of biomethane vehicles and the launch of metrobus, actually drove up passenger numbers with 54 per cent growth since 2012/13, bucking the national trend. However, bus’s modal share in Bristol still lags behind many other UK cities, so there is still a real opportunity – and a real need – to achieve further significant growth.
“This can only happen by making the buses more frequent and more reliable, which not only requires significant investment to expand the bus fleet, but also the complementary, enabling investment in road infrastructure, bus priority and other measures that will allow the expanded bus network to deliver.
“We continue to address this uplift in passenger use and the need for our services to be punctual with a number of technology driven innovations that encourage fast, contactless payments and enable passengers to see how busy services are so they can plan their journey accordingly. These have continued to be applied through lockdown and beyond this year.”