Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, announced a PS5 Billion boost for bus and cycling in February. He promised to make buses more frequent and offer cheaper fares. Panorama, BBC’s newsmagazine, picked up the story a month later. It highlighted the economic and social cost of bus service cuts in the past decade.

BBC quoted Department for Transport figures showing that central and local government support for buses have fallen by PS800 millions since 2010. The BBC quoted Department for Transport figures that show the decline in support for buses by central and local governments. Low-paid people often use expensive taxis, and the elderly and disabled are increasingly dependent on ad-hoc charity and volunteer services.

Since 2010, the number of people who use buses in England has fallen by 10%. The largest drop in the north of England was down by as much as 19%. BBC data analysis showed that 550,000 homes were at least two kilometers from a bus stop, with only four buses per day.

It is clear that bus services are in dire need of improvement. The UK’s privatized bus system with low-funded public support for last resort is failing people who don’t have any other options. This makes the bus a marginal option for those with cars.

British Bus Model

Although the British model of providing bus services broken, there a bigger problem that will affect long-term transport. This is how buses work.

Bus services use big buses to operate on fixed routes according to predetermined schedules. Bus services work best in dense urban corridors, from the suburbs to the city centre. However, today’s travel patterns are not compatible with this model. Travel increasingly disperse in cities, rural areas, and the urban fringes of our 24 hour 7 days world.

Only 15% of trips involve commutes. A large amount of leisure and recreational travel has grown, although it isn’t on major bus routes. The reason for many people’s reluctance not to use buses is not about the price of tickets or frequency; it’s simply because the core system design does not correspond with modern travel patterns.

A new public transport system need that can adapt to the 21st Century. This would require reimagining the bus and using smaller buses that run more often or on demand across a wider network of routes. Not just corridors between major cities.

As new technologies like autonomous driving become more common, the system will need to adapt. This could significantly reduce costs. The Future Urban Environments Group at Open University is a research group that explores how digital technologies can be use to help.

Buses Up To Speed

This is happening, but it’s not obvious. The digital invaders to taxi market Uber, Bolt, Bolt, and Ola have attracted millennials from larger cities as their travel habits and lifestyles match those of these services. These digital taxi models are not affordable for everyone, however.

Instead of changing taxi operations, a ride-sharing service that is base on smartphones could be develop. This would allow the digital taxi sector’s innovations to be integrate into mainstream public transport. ViaVan is a good example.

ViaVan’s service is a combination of Uber and buses. Book and pay via an app. Then, you will be taken to a pickup location where you will be met by a minivan that takes you to your drop-off point. The cost is between a minicab and a bus. Milton Keynes Council is running a pilot program to test whether a ViaVan service with a bus-level fare (and allowing concessionary bus passes), can be used in conjunction with traditional bus services.

This is just one step towards addressing the structural issues of conventional bus system design. For their traditional purpose of transporting commuters along large urban corridors, they still need better buses. However, there must be a wider vision of how the digital world can transform the bus into something else.

Rare are initiatives like the one in Milton Keynes. The current buses industry is limited in its commercial skills set. Therefore, the public sector must be the leader.

Let’s say you have some PS5 billion to put towards a bus system transform fund. This will allow you to develop a long-term solution for bus service and not just keep the old way of doing it