Bus Travel: Stagecoach in Portsmouth ranked the best bus service in England for customer satisfaction

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A bus operator in Portsmouth has been named as the best in England for customer satisfaction.

Transport Focus, an independent watchdog for public transport, found in its research that Stagecoach in the city had a passenger satisfaction score of 91 per cent. The watchdog found 80 per cent of over bus passengers in England were satisfied with their last journey, with eight per cent dissatisfied. A Stagecoach service, the number 23 between Leigh Park and Southsea, was switched to operate for 24 hours as part of a revamped timetable. Other routes were extended to operate more buses on evenings and weekends.

The Transport Focus research, which was conducted for the first time, gathered feedback on more than 35,000 journeys nationally. Director David Sidebottom said: “It is good to see many passengers are satisfied with their journey. Eighty per cent overall satisfaction is a good start. However, wide variation in scores show that some passengers are being let down. As congestion continues to bite, government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy. We’ll be using the results from this survey as a benchmark for local transport authorities and bus operators to drive improvements and attract more people onto buses.”

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Stagecoach in Portsmouth has been ranked at the best bus operator in England. Picture: Habibur RahmanStagecoach in Portsmouth has been ranked at the best bus operator in England. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Stagecoach in Portsmouth has been ranked at the best bus operator in England. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Graham Vidler, chief executive for industry body the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), added: “It’s great to see eight out of 10 passengers were satisfied with their last bus journey, and even better to see satisfaction as high as 90 per cent in some areas such as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole or the East Riding of Yorkshire. To drive improvements for bus passengers right across the country, operators and local authorities will want to learn from these high-performing places. These results also highlight the persistent challenge posed by road congestion when it comes to delivering reliable, punctual bus services, especially in peak periods.

“This is why it’s vital local authorities invest in measures to give buses priority on key routes, and it’s why CPT is calling on the next government to require all local authorities to improve bus speeds by 10 per cent over the next five years. Given that bus drivers are the most thanked profession in the country, it’s also gratifying for bus operators to learn that this survey also found 85 per cent of passengers were satisfied with their bus driver.”

Portsmouth bucked the trend of the research, with the watchdog finding that people travelling in urban metropolitan areas across the country were less satisfied on average compared to those making journeys elsewhere. The median score in these areas was 78 per cent. Transport Focus said: "This is not surprising as urban metropolitan services are the most likely to be affected by crowding, and are most likely to encounter traffic and roadworks, making services run late. Crowding makes people less satisfied, even when they can get a seat. Passengers who sat next to someone they didn’t know are significantly less satisfied than those who didn’t.”

Arriva in West Yorkshire - covering Leeds, Wakefield and elsewhere - was ranked as the worst in the country, with just 66 per cent of people being satisfied with their last journey. The study covered 55 operators. Arriva is one of the UK's largest train and bus operators - a subsidiary to Germany’s state-owned transport giant Deutsche Bahn. Although, a takeover by US-based infrastructure investor I Squared Capital understood to be worth around 1.6 billion euro (£1.4 billion) was agreed in October last year.

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