Thought leadership

Enhancing public transit: A vision beyond Election Day

As the UK prepares to vote on July 4, 2024, the future of public transit is a key issue for all political parties. Whether focusing on infrastructure, accessibility, or sustainability, the manifestos from all major parties highlight the need for significant improvements. Jon Salmon, our Director of Business Development, shares some key thoughts on how the next UK government can improve transit services.

3 min read
July 3, 2024

Prioritising local and regional transit

Investment in local and regional transit is a fundamental first step to achieving Net Zero targets. Many parties have committed to improving public transit in smaller cities, towns and rural areas. This includes funding new bus routes. These measures are key to ensure that all regions, not just major urban centres, benefit from reliable and efficient public transit networks.

Investing in bus services in rural areas can transform accessibility for communities that often feel disconnected. Policies that provide local authorities with the power and funding to franchise and manage their bus services can create more integrated and responsive networks. Tailoring solutions to the unique needs of different regions ensures that improvements in public transit are equitable and widespread.

Leveraging data for accountability and improvement

Data plays a crucial role in modernising public transit. A data-driven approach can help ensure that investments are made where they are most needed and that the impact of these investments is objectively assessed. Accurate transit data and analytics tools can provide this transparency, identify connectivity issues, and guide improvements.

For example, real-time data on bus services can help manage congestion and optimise schedules, improving the reliability and efficiency of public transit. Additionally, high-quality 'before' and 'after' data can track the success of continuous improvement efforts and foster accountability among operators and authorities. This will be especially important as authorities take on new initiatives such as franchising, which is set to continue across the UK.

Ensuring affordability and accessibility

Public transit must be affordable and accessible to all. Policies that introduce fare discounts for young people can make public transit more affordable for the younger population, encouraging its use and fostering a culture of sustainable travel and public transit patronage from a young age.

For example, in Germany a 49 euro Deutschland Ticket (D-Ticket) has been introduced, which can be used for unlimited travel on public transport within a month, significantly reducing travel costs and promoting widespread use of public transit. This example shows how broader, less targeted approaches can make public transit more accessible and attractive. It also highlights the potential benefits of implementing affordable and inclusive public transit policies on a national scale.

Empowering local authorities

Shifting the power and funding from centralised government to local authorities (known as devolution) to manage and integrate their public transit systems can lead to more efficient and user-friendly networks. Local decision-making can ensure that transit services are tailored to the specific needs of communities, improving service reliability and passenger satisfaction. Simplifying funding streams and devolving decision-making powers can help local authorities put in place the most effective transit solutions for their areas, whether that’s franchising or other partnership models.

Fostering a collaborative approach

Collaboration among all stakeholders—government agencies, private operators, and passengers—is essential for the success of public transit policies. By working together with transparency and accountability, stakeholders can develop integrated solutions that deliver better outcomes for everyone. Building a culture of accountability and continuous improvement ensures that public transit systems evolve to meet the changing needs of passengers.


As we look beyond the 2024 election, the potential for improving public transit in the UK is vast. By prioritising local and regional investments, leveraging data, ensuring affordability and accessibility, and empowering local authorities, we can create a public transit system that is better, more accessible, and more reliable for all. The next government can drive meaningful change that prioritises passenger experience and fosters cleaner, healthier cities. Let’s ensure that public transit remains a priority, delivering lasting benefits for all communities.

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