Today marks the end of this year's Catch the Bus Week, overseen by Greener Journeys. The aim of the week is fairly self-explanatory - it is an opportunity for the bus industry to showcase itself and highlight the social, economic and environmental benefits of an increase in bus travel. We have been participating at the grassroots level, supporting the campaign on social media and trying to use our cars as little as possible, opting for the bus (or train) wherever possible.
It is excellent to see such an effort being made to engage schoolchildren with the Catch the Bus Week concept. Our philosophy is that those of school-age are not just the passengers of today, they are the potential passengers of tomorrow, and if they perceive bus travel to be safe, comfortable and good value for money, they are much more likely to choose to travel by bus in later life - when they will have complete control over the mode that they use.
This is why I am always disappointed when I see local authorities, schools and bus operators treating schoolchildren as the lowest class of bus passenger. A typical school bus is 15 to 20 years old (at least), smelling musty and epitomising everything that the commercial bus sector has been trying to escape for the past decade. This is not the way to instil positive travel habits in the next generation - their perception of bus travel in the future will be based chiefly upon their experiences of bus travel in the past.
Instead, some fresh thinking is required. Modern, comfortable vehicles will help children to enjoy bus travel, and demonstrate to parents that as an industry we take the safety of their children seriously. Service reliability is also key - when a bus only runs once per day, poor punctuality and cancellations both cause significant problems. Finally, we need to make it easy for parents to find out about school bus services. Many parents will not themselves have used a bus for many years, so they will not be au fait with the system. At Vectare, our VecTive software offering solves this problem, providing parents with instant travel advice that is bespoke to them. If you want to improve the quality of your school bus services, please get in touch.