Following the publication of the special Eurobarometer “Autocar Services”, it is confirmed that buses have a decent reputation among users in the UK. This study, carried out by TNS UK for the European Commission, analyses the coach services in different European countries. The report includes: the number of users, occasions and motivations to use the coach, how services are valued, and suggestions for possible improvements.
The role of the bus in the UK and Europe
Although the number of users who recognise using the bus as a means of transport for domestic travel in the United Kingdom is not among the highest in the EU, the study brings good news for the sector. Approximately 65% of UK citizens (both users and non-users) offer a positive assessment of UK buses.
How much do we travel by bus?
However, despite the positive perception, only 37% of UK citizens claim to have used the bus as a means of transport for their domestic travel. At the European level, Estonia claims the highest number of users (73%) and Germany or France have the lowest (both with 18%).
The number of users is even lower when talking about international travel. Only 20% of UK citizens use the coach as a means of transport for their trips abroad. Even the three countries where international bus travel is most popular, Malta (47%), Cyprus (44%) and Latvia (41%) do not reach 50%.
On what occasions do we take the coach?
Among UK citizens who use the coach for their trips, 26% do so for various leisure activities, 24% use coaches to go on holiday, 23% to visit family or friends, and 15% for a weekend getaway.
Why do we travel by coach?
The low price of tickets remains the main motivation of the majority of users (37%). 22% are essentially “forced” because they do not have their own vehicle and 17% do so because of door-to-door convenience. The reliability of services, and the comfort and cleanliness of coaches, are among the other most popular reasons.
How do we value our buses?
Both users and non-users have a fairly positive image of buses. 65% of UK citizens rate the service positively, placing it right around the European average. Ireland and Spain both rank the highest in terms of bus satisfaction at 84% and 83% respectively. However, 84% of people in the UK view their buses as safe, which is the third highest in Europe, behind Ireland (91%) and Greece (86%). UK buses also earn high marks in terms of punctuality and reliability (74%), ease of purchasing tickets (76%), and comfort (73%).
What could attract more users?
The generally positive ratings of the service (even among non-users) provide some hope for the sector in the United Kingdom. What are the reasons for not using a service that is generally well regarded? Here are some of the most common reasons noted:
30% would use the bus if they did not have a car,
18% would do so if prices were lower and
10% for better comfort and cleaning services