Bus company Stagecoach North East has urged politicians to take tough action on congestion and put buses at the heart of their plans.
The transport company, which runs services in Hartlepool, has written to MPs and councillors across the UK to warn of the worrying impact of congestion and to give examples of the ways the growing problem is affecting bus users.
Research shows the direct and indirect costs of congestion to all UK motorists amounted to over £37.7 billion in 2017, an average of £1,168 per driver, with motorists spending an average of 31 hours a year in congestion during peak hours.
Stagecoach’s own research shows over the last three years in Teesside, they have had to increase the number of vehicles required during peak times by six extra buses due to congestion.
Using additional vehicles and drivers to maintain punctuality adds a significant cost, in excess of £1m each year.
Research by Greener Journeys also showed the Government’s seven-year freeze on fuel duty has resulted in a 4% increase in traffic since 2011 and a similar decrease in public transport use.
Stagecoach North East managing director, Steve Walker, said: “This is not specifically about Stagecoach, or any other bus company – it’s about the impact of congestion on bus passengers and other road users in the area and the situation simply cannot continue if we are to continue improving the local bus network and improving the local environment.
“Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
“Buses are key to delivering this – effective bus networks can boost the local economy, improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and help improve air quality. We are playing our part by investing in improvements for customers including in digital technology, new routes and new vehicles, but we need politicians to play their part to help buses flourish.”