“HomeRun can't replace axed bus services, but it can help stop an increase in car-use.”
As many of you will have seen, last week the BBC revealed that in some areas of the country, bus services have been cut by more than a third.
And further reports have shown that, despite the government’s ‘bus back better’ strategy, in 2022, almost one in ten local services across the UK was axed.
Buses are still the country’s most used form of public transport - 57% of all public transport journeys are made on them. With services diminishing, people are, unsurprisingly, turning to cars: of the four million school journeys recorded on HomeRun across the UK each year, walking and cycling made up only 10% of all journeys of over one mile. This number drops to 3% when it’s over two miles. By contrast, 54% of all school journeys over one mile are by car. And in areas where there are no privately commissioned school buses, that number rises to 66%.
SOURCE : BBC / Department of transport This tells us that for journeys over a mile, where active travel is less attractive, and buses are no longer available, many people will turn to cars. This affects traffic levels, air pollution and, naturally, more cars on the road has a knock on effect on net zero ambitions – as well as road safety.
There are other services available: a few counties have on-demand bus services in rural areas, and cities such as Nottingham have launched e-scooter schemes.
But these are not available – or suitable – everywhere, and e-scooters, in particular, which have age restrictions and require a provisional licence, are not appropriate for all demographics, including school children.
What is clear is that people need these bus services. And, equally, that there is no real replacement for these services. At HomeRun, we see buses as an essential part of any transport network.
But while these cuts are in place, how can we empower our communities to help themselves? In Hertfordshire, we've launched HomeRun with Presdales, a school where parents were already concerned that their bus route had been cut. We’ve seen 50 families put their hands up and say they want to journey share together, which would really help reduce car usage, as well as costs.
We’ve also worked with a community in St Albans, where a group of parents have got together to rent their own 15 seater minibus.
In Hampstead, where we have a cluster of schools on HomeRun, our data has shown that a large number of parents drive their children along a bus route, the 603, to school. Working alongside a local community campaign group, Green School Runs, we discovered the bus didn’t start running until 10am. We’re now supporting their campaign to get the bus running at relevant times.
Ultimately HomeRun is about community. And, while it doesn’t replace the bus service, we’re happy that we’re able to help families deal with transport challenges this unfortunate situation creates.