An uncomfortable truth

posted 25 Mar 2016, 05:10 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 25 Mar 2016, 05:11 ]
25 March 2016

I have been travelling quite extensively by bus in recent days, and I have come to the conclusion that bus travel is not very nice.

There I have said it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am a staunch supporter of the bus and believe in it as a practical, flexible provider of mass transport.

However, the uncomfortable truth is that travelling by bus is, er… uncomfortable.

This isn’t particularly the fault of the operators who are providing more and more new kit – it isn’t especially the fault of the bus builders (although some seat designers should try sitting in their products for more than a few minutes, and if a new car had the annoying squeaks and rattles of most new buses it would be straight back to the dealer for fixing or replacement!).

Rather, the main fault lies with the highway authorities.

The state of our roads is now quite shocking. Buses crashing over potholes, sunken manholes and gullies, poorly reinstated roadworks etc, is not conducive to a smooth and pleasant ride for the passenger.  After a couple of recent journeys I have considered filing for whiplash! It’s all very well having Wi-Fi on the bus but try using your “handheld device” to compose an email or text when the bus is lurching like a bucking bronco down the road.

There is an ongoing debate about the worth of bus lanes and other bus priority measures in our towns and cities. However, I would suggest that the priority needs to refocus on providing a quality road surface to enable our existing bus services to provide a quality ride to passengers. If we are serious about the role of bus, and encouraging modal switch, operators and highway authorities have to work together to identify the problem areas and the highway authority has to find the funds to rectify the issues. (and yes, I know, it’s easier said than done!)

In Greater Manchester, the new guided busway service is due to start next week. Between Leigh and Ellenbrook the guideway will provide a smooth trackway for brand new buses to glide along. However, I fear that once the bus leaves the guided section and joins the normal highway passengers will notice a vast difference in ride quality (and just wait till they get to those spectacular road humps on Crescent!)

Happy travelling…