Last month, the UK transport watchdog, released a report on how young people are using public transport. Their findings indicate that operators should be doing more to encourage young people to use their services.
The bus industry is lagging behind many others in terms of new tech according to Transport Focus. The report states that young people are not using bus services because it’s not as user-friendly as other industries. Food delivery and taxi hailing are at everyone’s fingertips, so why not smart ticketing and journey planning? The report recommends that tickets and pricing structures need to be easier to navigate in order to attract young people. Their preference is to purchase through their smartphones, so bus operators should be trying to accommodate them.
Why should operators take notice?
The 16-18 year old age group are the largest demographic of bus users in the UK, but according to the Bus Passenger Survey, they are also the least satisfied. Young people are less likely to travel by bus if they don’t know in advance how much their ticket will cost, and when their bus will arrive. We spoke to Andrew Whitehead from The Strategic Transport Policy Team at The Department for Environment and Community Services at South Gloucestershire Council.
Watching the excitement on the faces of my 6 and 8 year old daughters when we go up to the top deck, I often wonder at what age we fall out of love with the bus. I think it is an accumulation of the odd bad experience like the bus not turning up, the driver not giving change for a tenner, or the challenge of trying to find when and where the bus goes, and how it can work for you. Those experiences can now be so easily improved through smart mobility solutions. If we understand and cater for young people’s expectations we have a greater chance of keeping them.
Despite their expectations not being met, more and more young people are turning to public transport to get around. The number of teenagers holding a driving licence has dropped 40% in two decades according to the Department for Transport. As these young people move into the workforce, it’s more important than ever for bus operators to optimise their services, and provide easy to use, simple ticketing structures to this tech savvy generation.
Carl Partridge, CEO at UrbanThings gave his thoughts. “We’ve spoken to bus companies across the country who have identified that they need to improve their offering to young people. Research shows that 95% of people between the ages of 16-24 own a smartphone. The number of unbanked people in the UK has dropped to 1.2 million. There’s really no reason for operators to not offer a more sophisticated ticketing system to passengers.”
How Ticketless™ is addressing these issues
The bus industry is changing, and operators should change soon to keep up with the expectations of the younger generations. Ticketless from UrbanThings can help bus services appeal to young people. Our passenger focussed app provides mobile-ticketing, clearly presented tickets and pricing, real-time travel information, live disruptions and journey planning. The real-time passenger data plugs into the Ticketless backend system, so bus companies can save money and optimise their routes.