THE total number of bus journeys in Reading soared by 1.2 million trips last year, bucking the national trend of a fall in bus use.
Bus journeys in Reading increased again in 2015/16, this time by 6.3%, while many parts of the country – including London – experienced a fall in bus trips.
The figures once again cement the growing importance of bus use in Reading as a way of getting around town.
This year’s totals – published by the Department for Transport (DfT) – show that in Reading people used buses for 126 journeys a year. It means Reading again has the 3rd highest number of bus journeys per head of population outside of London.
Furthermore the figures show that over the past five years bus use in Reading has grown by an astonishing 22.8%, considerably outstripping any other area of growth across the country. In total there were 20.4 million individual bus journeys in Reading last year. This compares to 14.4m in the rest of Berkshire.
One of the most successful bus routes was Reading Borough Council’s own ‘greenwave’ service to south Reading along the growing A33 corridor. The route recorded a 20% growth in passengers last year to key destinations including Green Park, Kennet Island and Mereoak Park & Ride.
There were 4.8 million concessionary pass journeys made in Reading over the same period, as against 4.6 million made in the rest of Berkshire. As a percentage of travel in Reading, this was only one in four of the total journeys made, showing the importance of the buses as a means to facilitate work and leisure travel.
Cllr Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport said:
“Once again these figures confirm the growing importance of bus travel in Reading provided by the town’s excellent bus service, which continues to go from strength to strength. A 1.2 million increase in bus trips – on top of huge increases in previous years – is once again astonishing.
“Very many Reading residents rely on buses to get around and that figure is growing all the time. Ours is a hugely successful town, but in a small urban area like Reading with limited road space, encouraging more people to use sustainable transport options like buses is the only way we can manage capacity. The key to encouraging bus travel is of course to make services as reliable as possible, which is why the Council will continue to place great importance on keeping bus lanes clear and giving buses priority.
“This sits alongside the Council’s creation of important new bus links across Reading, like the one currently being constructed on the A33, and the proposals for a vital new bus-only link in the east of the borough.”
Martijn Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer at Reading Buses, said:
“We welcome the excellent news that Reading’s bus network has continued to grow in popularity. Our hard working team constantly strive to provide the best possible services to customers, despite the many challenges of our growing town and its compact road network. Our ongoing focus on the customer and investment in the latest low emission vehicles, with features such as free WiFi and USB charging to aid the productivity of customer journeys, is really paying dividends in ensuring we have a modern transport system that helps keep our town moving and our economy thriving.
“We are continuing to develop enhancements to services, including recent upgrades to our royal blue and orange ‘Woodley’ routes, and are working closely with the Council to make sure we get the best possible benefit for our customers from infrastructure enhancements, such as works on the A33 which will support this important high growth corridor for residents, businesses and wider Park & Ride links.”
The latest bus use statistics, published by the DfT last week, show that with a fall in numbers in London there was an overall decrease in bus travel in England.
In terms of journeys per head of population, Brighton leads the way with 160 trips, followed by Nottingham at (149), and Reading at 126. Reading’s figure is up from 119 journeys per head last year. The average per head of population outside of London was 50, with the average for the South East standing at 40 journeys per head.
DfT bus use statistics for 2015/16 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bus-statistics#data-tables