Milton Keynes City Council is using Government funding to provide residents with printed bus timetables as part of a campaign to encourage more people back onto buses and secure the future of services.
Last month, Government’s £2 cap on bus fares which was due to end on 31 October was extended to 31 December 2024.
Councils have been also provided with Government funding to improve public transport and the city council and bus operators are using this to share information with residents about local bus services, and to raise awareness of the benefits of ‘getting back on the bus’.
Across the UK, fewer people have been using buses since the pandemic and in Milton Keynes overall bus use has dropped by around 15%. But the drop is even more significant – down by a third – for local people entitled to concessionary fares.
Milton Keynes City Council has used some of the ringfenced funding to print a travel guide including bus timetables following feedback from some residents that a printed timetable better suits their needs. This will be available in libraries as well as delivered to homes. The city council continues to publish timetables online as well as an interactive map of stops and an online journey planner.
The city council is also partially funding seven local bus routes until at least the end of the year because providers will likely reduce or withdraw these routes unless passenger numbers increase.
Around 7 million trips were made on Milton Keynes buses in the last year, and around half a million trips were made on MK Connect, where passengers book a shared trip on an accessible MK Connect vehicle. The city council set up the service in 2021 in response to bus providers withdrawing routes in some areas of the city, and it’s the largest of its kind in the country.
Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, said: “As a bus user I typically plan my journeys online, but I recognise not everyone will or can do the same. We’re using this Government funding to provide printed timetables to make it easier for some passengers, and to remind local people what’s available. Bus companies do withdraw unpopular routes, and those decisions are beyond our control. If you want a specific route to continue, the best signal you can send to the bus company is to get back on board.”