This year Catch the Bus Week will take place on 2-8 July 2018.
Each year this event is an opportunity to highlight the value of local bus services, and the contribution which buses make to the economic, social, and overall wellbeing of communities they serve. Public perception of local bus services tends to be mixed. Commenting on issues such as reliability, on board comfort, on time performance, and availability when they (the travelling public) want to make a journey. However in recent years we have seen bus companies and local authorities investing in more user friendly buses, real time information, better interchange connections, and on road infrastructure (such as bus lanes) to speed bus services through the growing problems of traffic congestion.
Yet despite these investments, patronage of local bus services across Wales is declining. Some bus routes may be profitable for bus companies. However for many, continuance of local bus services continues to remain dependant on availability of public funds to subsidise their continued operation as a ‘socially necessary public service’ in both urban and rural areas.
One popular topic which has appeared over the past few months, has highlighted the growth and impact of ‘social isolation’ across all generations. Highlighting ways in which people can combat loneliness and re-connect with the communities in which they live or visit. Catch The Bus week and Tourism are two aspects which could come together to support local bus companies and the network of routes operated. In particular where a bus route serves a bus stops located close to visitor attractions (such as Rhondda Heritage Park): Outdoor activity centres (such as Garwnant and Craig Y Nos Country Park): Access points to public walking routes (such as Pen y Fan): Associated tourism related businesses (such as shopping centres, pubs and restaurants).
An exercise carried out earlier this year by Welsh Government to offer free travel on weekends aboard buses serving the Trans Cymru network. Resulting during the operational period in an increase of public awareness about these services, as well as improving ridership.
For Tourism Destinations, Catch the Bus Week can highlight an ‘untapped opportunity’ to develop interest, and encouraging people (such as Senior Citizens) to make use of travel schemes and All Wales Concessionary Passes to explore localities, visit tourism sites, attractions, events and related local businesses.
Operators in your area – Stagecoach and New Adventure Travel, already subscribe to Catch The Bus Week, primarily from holding events to meet the travelling public, and lobby public sector decision makers. If you feel that tourism should be part of this event agenda, then please spread the word.
Further information about Catch The Bus Week, please visit www.catchthebusweek.co.uk