READING is again bucking the national trend with 900,000 more bus trips last year, bringing the total up to 22.5 million trips.
While bus use went down 0.7% across England in 2018/19, in Reading it rose by 4.2%. Total bus trips in the rest of Berkshire totalled 13.7m, an increase of 2.2%.
The figures mean bus use in Reading has increased by 40% since 2011/12, when there were 16 million journeys recorded.
Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Reading continues to buck the national trend, with bus trips up again for the seventh consecutive year. A 40% rise in use since 2011 is most impressive.
“Reading Buses is one of the few Council-owned bus companies left in the UK and these latest figures reflect the excellent service the company continues to provide to people in Reading. They also reflect the Council’s on going investment in new bus lanes, which continue to speed up bus journeys and make them more reliable for the millions of people who rely on them every year.
“Reading Buses is also one of the most environmentally friendly fleets in the UK, which reflects the Council’s ambition to respond to the climate emergency by creating a net carbon zero town by 2030.
“The town’s continued success as the top employment centre and visitor destination in the region, and new housing being built, means we will continue to face challenges with congestion and air quality in the future. Buses will have a vital role to play in tackling these issues by providing a realistic, reliable and sustainable alternative to the private car.”
In terms of journeys per head of population, Reading (137.6 trips) remained third outside London after Brighton (171.7 trips) and Nottingham (149.7 trips). All three saw an increase, with Reading’s the highest of the three at 4% on the previous year.
Reading’s per head bus use is now nearing double the All England figure of 77.1 and is way above the South East average of 38.2 annual bus trips per head of population.
The average bus use per head of population for the rest of Berkshire was 18.3 with Windsor & Maidenhead at 9.3. Bus use in both Wokingham and West Berks also increased in contrast to the national picture.