This week is Catch the Bus Week – an annual event to put the bus in the spotlight and celebrate its unique importance to everyday life.
Public transport is a vital means of helping everyone maintain a mobile lifestyle, particularly young or older people, those with disabilities or additional support needs; people with mobility issues or those who simply don't have a car. We're mindful that we provide a service that is available to all - regardless of age, ability or background. Without bus travel, some of us would not be able to find employment, access healthcare or visit family and friends - aspects of life which many take for granted.
In the UK, a quarter of people are at risk of social exclusion – an issue that is alleviated with the freedom to travel. Since its launch in 2006, the concession scheme has been taken up by 87% of those who are eligible (a figure that is 10% higher in Scotland than elsewhere), and card-holders make up more than a third of all bus journeys today. In fact, these passengers make more than 146 million trips between them every year. Not only does this help prevent isolation, it also helps the environment as a third of all journeys made with a free bus pass would otherwise have been made by car.
Bus travel helps families stay connected. Research conducted by MindLab International found that 41% of passengers believed they would be forced to spend less time with their family were it not for their local bus service. And nearly half (47%) would socialise less with friends were it not for the bus - rising to 53% among under 25s.
Elderly relatives with a bus pass are better able to assist with day-to-day family life. Overall, this social benefit is estimated to be worth £2.7 billion in saved childcare costs for families across the country. Hopping on the bus this summer will make for a great day out: the grandkids get on for 20p and the grandparents go free!
Travelling by bus promotes a healthier, more active lifestyle for the elderly and disabled whilst maintaining independent living and social interaction. Simply walking to and from the bus stop helps toward achieving the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise, and chatting to fellow passengers on the journey into town can have a simple yet significant positive effect on mental wellbeing. Xplore Dundee works closely with advocacy groups (such as the Care Age Network) to ensure travelling is a convenient and comfortable experience for all.
It’s not just concession card-holders who are empowered by buses. A quarter of all households (and almost half of those on low incomes) across the country have no access to a car. Our network connects every community in Dundee to major destinations (be they workplaces, shopping centres or college campuses) across the city, and we offer straightforward and affordable tickets to suit a variety of travel needs.
We seek to continually review and enhance our provision for passengers with any additional needs, including visual impairment, hearing loss or mobility issues. We know how many people in Dundee rely on our services, and it's crucial to us that everyone shares in a positive experience on our buses. One of our priorities during Catch the Bus Week (and every week) is getting travel right for everyone.