Bus use still below pre-pandemic numbers

Bus passenger figures.Bus passenger figures.
Bus passenger figures.
The number of bus journeys taken in Northumberland has fallen by almost half over the last decade, new figures show.

Department for Transport figures show passengers took 5.8 million bus journeys in Northumberland in the year to March last year – up from 2.9 million the year before, which was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – but down significantly on pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019-20, the last full year before the pandemic, passengers in the county took eight million journeys, while over the last decade, journeys have dropped by 46%.

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In England there were 2.8 billion bus journeys in 2021-22 – down from 4.1 billion in 2019-20.

A decade ago there were 4.6 billion.

The Government last week extended a £2 cap on all bus journeys to June 30, and committed £80m to protect vital bus routes.

The Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the investment but called for long-term funding reform to encourage more people to take the bus.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of the campaign group, said: "An extension only gets us so far. We are urging the Government to implement long-term funding reform to avoid more uncertainty and give everyone access to affordable and reliable bus services."

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Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Travelling by bus remains the most popular option for commuters but the sector is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic and we’re providing £155 million to help passengers save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital bus routes.”