At a time when we should be supporting a sustainable economic recovery, Newcastle City Council is moving ahead with plans to ban buses from Blackett Street while making allowances for car-driving permit holders.
Drawing on research from Greener Journeys, Bus Users UK is highlighting the impact such a move will have on business and the leisure industry in the City centre.
The charity is urging people to respond to the planned consultation which kicks off on Monday 13 September, and to contact Councillor Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Development, Neighbourhoods and Transport at Newcastle City Council email@example.com
Buses: the lifeblood of UK town and city centres
Over of 4.5billion journeys are made by bus each year in the UK, with 1 in 4 of us reliant on the bus as our sole means of transport. Buses make a huge social and economic contribution to society, improving our health and wellbeing, reducing congestion and pollution, and ensuring we have access to work, shops and services, not to mention cafes, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
With UK businesses attempting to recover from the Covid-19 health crisis, and many high streets in long-term decline, it is vital that local authorities and policy makers recognise the true value of buses to our town and city centres.
1. Pre-Covid, bus users generated more than Â£64billion worth of goods and services every year
Making sure workers and customers can easily access our high streets is critical to the short-term economic recovery of local businesses, and to their long-term future.
2. Buses are the primary mode of transport to city centres responsible for facilitating 29% of all city centre expenditure
The more difficult it is for people to access shops and leisure facilities, the more likely they are to vote with their feet and find somewhere more accessible.
3. 3.5 million commuters use the bus to travel to work, with a further 1 million using the bus as back-up transport
Attracting the right staff is challenging, particularly in the current climate. Thriving city centres are dependent on hospitality shift workers and entry-level/part-time staff who are more likely to be reliant on the bus for transport.
4. A 10% improvement in bus connectivity is associated with a 3.6% reduction in deprivation
Communities with less deprivation see an increase in post-16 education, adult skills, employment and income, increasing their economic value as both employees and customers.
5. Free bus passes deliver in excess of Â£1.7billion in annual net benefits
People with disabilities are less likely to hold a driverâ€™s licence or have access to a car. Yet there are an estimated 7 million people of working age with a disability in the UK, many of whom are reliant on the bus to get to work. Their combined household spending power â€“ the â€˜Purple Poundâ€™ is reportedly Â£249 billion.
Restricting access to buses has a proven impact on passenger numbers and the subsequent social and economic benefits they bring. At a time of post-Covid recovery, when governments in England, Scotland and Wales are urgently prioritising bus services, can any UK town or city afford to turn its back on the bus?