Guest blog – Catch the Bus Week: the benefits for all

Classic Bristol busesToday’s blog is from Claire Haigh, Chief Executive at Greener Journeys- she discusses how buses are about more than just getting somewhere.

This summer, the industry-wide initiative, Catch the Bus Week will once again roll out across the country. Following the success of last year’s campaign, we at Greener Journeys can’t wait for another fantastic campaign – this time during a glorious summer (we’re sure!). The event will run from 29 June to 5 July, giving the Great British public even more of an incentive to get out of the car and walk to the bus stop. Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to promoting the value of the bus throughout our communities, and during Catch the Bus Week (CTBW), our campaign goes into overdrive as we coordinate activity from the whole bus world to get people out of cars and onto the bus!

But Catch the Bus Week is not just about inspiring people to make sustainable travel choices; it is also an opportunity to celebrate the vital role of the bus in connecting the most vulnerable in society with the community around them. This year, our campaign will highlight the huge social value of the bus by showing that the bus is a community and wellbeing enabler, allowing people to visit their loved ones, go to the shops, or get to volunteering opportunities.

Loneliness amongst older people is a problem all year round. Age UK research found that around one million people aged 65 or over in the UK (10%) say they always or often feel lonely. The bus network in the UK offers a lifeline for older people who may otherwise be isolated from friends, family and the local community, not least because of the concessionary travel scheme that Greener Journeys has campaigned tirelessly to protect. Greener Journeys’ research has found that for every £1 spent in funding concessionary travel, the bus pass generates £2.87 in benefits. It was therefore wonderful to see all of the main parties pledge their support for the bus pass in the run up to the election in May.

With loneliness amongst older people such a pressing issue here in the UK, Catch the Bus Week is the perfect opportunity to get people, young and old, onto the bus, and out into the community. Last year almost 100 bus companies, passenger organisations and local authorities all came together to run events, ticket giveaways and community engagement campaigns across the country. Many MPs also got involved by hopping on a bus and holding their surgeries, tweeting and blogging about #CTBW and speaking about the bus to their local media.

Indeed, Catch the Bus Week is a week in which we celebrate the bus as a vital service, underpinning societies, connecting loved ones and ensuring everyone can get out and about. It is also about galvanising the whole bus community, from bus operators to bus pass holders. So please get involved to make this the best Catch the Bus Week yet! Why not hop on a bus to visit someone you haven’t seen in a while, pick up something tasty from the shop, or help out at a local charity shop!

Also published by Age UK today- ‘Public transport fails the oldest and most vulnerable.’ To find out more about Age UK’s position on transport services for older people, visit our website.

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