nvestment in bus priority could also deliver an additional 18 million bus trips a year by 2035-36.  -  Photo: Urban Transport Group

nvestment in bus priority could also deliver an additional 18 million bus trips a year by 2035-36.

Photo: Urban Transport Group

Government investment in zero emissions buses (ZEBs) could deliver an extra 46 million journeys in city regions (outside London) each year by 2035-36, according to a new report by the Urban Transport Group.

The same investment would also see an additional 33 million kilometers made by buses per year and a 4% increase in revenue over the same time frame.

Under the Government’s own estimates, more than half of the buses used in the city regions outside London are over a decade old and are therefore likely to be diesel-powered.

ZEB Projections

The new projections, developed with consultants Steer, set out several scenarios for investing in ZEBs as well as bus priority – schemes such as bus lanes and priority at traffic lights which prioritize the bus over other forms of motorized traffic.

These projections are set against a "do nothing" scenario, which, in line with Government plans, sees the current enhanced revenue funding deals for buses end in April 2025, after which revenue funding would return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Under this "do nothing" scenario, bus patronage in city regions would fall from 780 million trips a year in 2022-23 to 506 million trips in 2035-36 - a loss of 274 million trips in 12 years. Vehicle kilometers would also fall from 468 million to 267 million a year over the same period.

The report modeled the impact of capital funding (for both ZEBs and bus priority) and revenue funding in the metropolitan areas (against the ‘do nothing’ scenario). It found that by 2035-36:

  • Investment in ZEBs could deliver an additional 46 million trips and 33 million vehicle kilometers a year 
  • Investment in bus priority could deliver an additional 18 million trips and 7 million vehicle kilometers a year
  • Maintaining the current enhanced revenue funding beyond April 2025 could deliver an additional 48 million trips and 33 million kilometers a year
  • Combining all three (so, investing in ZEB bus priority, and continuing revenue funding) could add an additional 126 million trips and 88 million vehicle kilometers a year

To understand the impact of bus priority, different scenarios were modeled where all bus journeys across the metropolitan areas were speeded up by different amounts. In the scenario where bus journeys were one minute and 30 seconds faster after five years (with equal improvements each year), an additional 18 million trips were made per year, vehicle kilometers increased by 7 million a year, and revenue also increased by 3.7% a year.

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