The number of passenger journeys made by bus in England fell by 85 million last year, amid “devastating” cuts on local services.
Passenger journeys declined by 3.2% outside London, continuing a decade-long trend, while bus use in the capital fell by 0.7%, according to the latest figures from the Department for Transport.
Out of 88 local authorities in England outside London, 70 saw a fall in bus use since 2009/10.
Labour said the new figures underlined the impact of Conservative policies, and underlined “the devastating impact of Tory cuts on local bus services”.
Andy McDonald, shadow transport secretary, said: “These figures underline the People are being denied opportunities in work and education and are cut off from friends and family, particularly those in rural areas or from low income backgrounds.”
These figures underline the devastating impact of Tory cuts on local bus servicesAndy McDonald, Shadow Transport Secretary
MacDonald added: “At the same time, cutting and withdrawing services is worsening congestion, air pollution and our impact on climate change.
“A Labour government will act in the interest of the many by putting investment back into bus services, protecting pensioners’ bus passes and introducing a new free pass for under 25s.”
Areas outside London with the highest number of passenger journeys per head included Brighton, Nottingham, Reading, Tyne and Wear, Bristol and Bournemouth, while the lowest included Rutland, Cheshire East, Windsor and Maidenhead and Herefordshire.
The figures follow a HuffPost UK report which revealed the impact of Staffordshire council’s cuts to the local Sunday bus service, a decision which was taken last April.
Local bus operator, Arriva Midlands, said at the time that “cuts to funding” were forcing them to withdraw the subsidised service.
Overall, there were 4.36 billion passenger journeys in England in the year to March 2018, down by 1.9% on the previous year, but 4.2% lower than in 2005.
Bus mileage fell by 3.4% in the same period.
In a new series, HuffPost UK is examining how shrinking local budgets are affecting people’s daily lives. These are stories of what it’s like to lose, in a society that is quietly changing. If you have a story you’d like to tell, email firstname.lastname@example.org