Nearly 60% of surveyed UK transport users embrace electric buses

Paying higher fares and higher road tax is not a problem for 58 per cent of respondents if it increases the number of electric buses and charging infrastructure

- London, UK
Nearly 60% of surveyed UK transport users embrace electric buses

A new survey, commissioned by Volvo Buses, has revealed that getting public support for the implementation of greener transport policies continues to divide public opinion, with more than half of those surveyed fully supporting a move to more greener transport options such as electric buses.

The research examined the public’s view on the future of urban transportation, electric buses and air quality at a time of dangerously high pollution levels due to hot weather. Respondents included car drivers, bus, train and taxi users, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, all above the age of 16. 

When considering greener transport choices, the results highlighted the British public’s love for the car, with 47 per cent of respondents stating it as their most often used mode of transportation, followed by bus travel, with 20 per cent using it most often.

Håkan Agnevall, President at Volvo Buses, said: “The survey indicates that cars and taxi services continue to top people’s transport of choice in urban centres. However, the more people we have travelling individually in vehicles, the more congested our streets are going to become, even if these vehicles are electric. This slows down journeys for all. At the same time, congestion from a growing number of non-electric cars increases the air quality hazard. We need to move people on to options, such as buses, that can carry increased numbers of people around our busy streets. To do this, we need to visualise and create the bus service of the future – a new reality, which changes people’s perceptions. Environmentally appealing services that provide the transport solution people need. If our bus services looked like this, then getting people to choose the electric bus could reduce congestion and improve air quality in our cities.”

When asked about what their transport choice is likely to be in 15 years’ time, 61 per cent of respondents aged 16-24 years old see themselves using their own car most, compared with 40 per cent of those aged 55 and over. Although millennials may now have access to a greater choice of transport options, such as on-demand services, the car looks set to be predominant in the short term while real alternatives such as electric buses gain traction around the world.   

Rendition of a future bus stopHowever, more cars mean more congestion. When it comes to the recent addition of on-demand app-based taxi services such as Uber, 44 per cent of respondents would rather choose a bus as it is cheaper. However, only nine per cent would prefer a bus for its speed of transit, highlighting the need for authorities to support the prioritisation of mass public transport for time-poor commuters.

Karen Vancluysen, Secretary General, Polis Network, said: “Air quality and congestion are the biggest urban mobility related challenges that cities are currently facing. Public transport and active travel should form the backbone of any sustainable urban transport system, along with measures related to modal shift, multimodal electromobility and urban vehicle access regulations.”

According to respondents, the top five reasons, apart from fare prices, which would make them take buses more often, are:

  • More frequent services (28 per cent)
  • Routes to places they need to go (25 per cent)
  • Bus stops nearer to home (22 per cent)
  • Buses that can get them to their destination quicker (14 per cent)
  • Cleaner bus on the inside (12 per cent). 

In addition, over half of respondents agreed that if bus stations were redeveloped into urban meeting points, with food outlets, bars and green public spaces, it would make bus travel even more appealing. The services have a key role to play – 34 per cent of passengers want Wi-Fi and charging points on services and a fifth want dedicated bus information on an app telling them when their next service is arriving. 

Direct travel from their location, similar to a taxi, was mentioned by 33 per cent of respondents, while 30 per cent said changing a city’s infrastructure to accommodate electric buses may be a challenge for its wider adoption. Such requirements can only be resolved when the industry and transport authorities work together to increase electric buses on UK streets.

Marie Carlsson, Director Business Solutions at Volvo Buses, commented on the findings: “As an industry working with city officials, we need to design bus services that appeal to users and meet their needs. In the future, that could mean buses as interconnected pods, possibly with a driver or not, with all those in one pod going to one destination, while another pod disconnects and goes in another direction. The size of the bus can depend on the demand; larger buses will complement small ones. Bus stops could become citizen hubs, making them attractive places to go for socialising and connecting with others. We need to show buses to be more than just mobility services if we are to move people away from cars and reduce the air pollution in our cities.”

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