The number of people taking the bus in the UK is declining almost universally. London is no exception, though its franchise system sees significantly more bus travel per person than any other area – over 250 journeys per year.
There are a host of reasons why policymakers should be getting on board with investing across the UK’s bus networks. Bus travel remains essential to preserving free movement throughout the UK and investment in bus infrastructure can ease congestion in cities and contribute to the transition to net-zero.
The government has recently announced the first steps in its ‘bus revolution’. Plans include offering support to local authorities and metropolitan mayors who want to create London-style franchised services. In October 2019, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority began its journey towards a franchised system.
But can this work for the rest of the UK? And what considerations are needed to make bus franchising a success outside the capital? This paper Michael Waterson presents what the rest of the UK can learn from London’s franchised bus system.