A new report into the wider benefits of the bus market claims that a 10% improvement in services could lead to around 50,000 more people in work in England, with 10,000 more jobs in the country’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Research from accountants KPGM, and the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, brought together by the Greener Journeys group in its report The Value of the Bus to Society, makes a series of claims about the wider impact of bus services.
It argues that transport decision makers are not taking account of wider benefits – including health and education - when appraising transport schemes and investment cases.These can add more than 30% to the benefit-cost ratio of bus investments, KPMG claims.
Greener Journeys called on the Department for Transport to review its approach to Social Impact Assessments – ‘perhaps introducing a short template SIA to be considered in all major transport and policy investment decisions’.
The DfT is currently undertaking a consultation on changes to its traditional WebTAG appraisal guidance for transport schemes to try and include ‘wider economic benefits’.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: ‘This new evidence shows that bus investment is not just a transport policy – it is a health policy, an education policy, a skills policy, a wellbeing policy, and a social cohesion policy.'
Greener Journeys also recommends the Government 'convenes a cross-departmental working group specifically aimed at ensuring better co-ordination of decision making where relevant to the social benefits of transport projects'.
According to the analysis, a 10% improvement in local bus services in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods across England would result in:
- 9,909 more jobs, the result of a 2.7% fall in employment deprivation
- 22,647 people with increased income, the result of a 2.8% drop in income deprivation
- 2,596 fewer years of life lost
- 7,313 more people with adult skills
- 0.7% increase in post-16 education
Analysis from the University of Leeds included in the study also claims that a 10% improvement in local bus service connectivity is associated with a 3.6% reduction in deprivation as measured by the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).
Katie Schmuecker, head of policy Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the report 'makes a strong case for why national and local transport planners should consider social impacts – particularly the impact on poverty and deprivation – when making decisions about transport investment and infrastructure’.