A number of bus service changes took place across the West Midlands on Sunday 29th August 2021, and here at West Midlands Bus Users we are keen to understand passenger opinions and feelings as well as finding how well informed they felt about the changes.
A concise online survey was conducted to gauge the sentiments of bus users which received 45 responses. In one week thirty were received from Birmingham, twelve from Black Country and three from Coventry.
It set out to find out if bus users knew the changes were happening, how they found out, how it affected their journeys, if they encountered any problems and finally what they thought was the motive for change.
With the exception of awareness of change, multiple values were able to given for each question. A comments field provided the greatest insight also validating the answers given to previous questions.
Illogical answers were negligible consisting of “None of the above” being selected with “one of the above”.
|Awareness that change was taking place:||34 were aware, 11 were unaware|
It is surprising that only 75% of tech savvy folk received information that change was happening.
|How they found out:||Social media 16, |
Other website (including WMBU) 10,
Word of mouth 9
|Bus Operator website 8, |
Notices on bus/stop 6,
Didn’t know 3,
TfWM website 1
This reflects social media and easy to understand websites are the default primary sources of information.
The low response to seeing notices reflects a lost opportunity to communicate change on the ground.
|Affected by change :||No 15, |
Yes, Longer journey 12,
Yes, Now have to change 7,
Yes, Now have to walk further 7
Yes, Now only one bus 3,
Yes, shorter journey 1
Nearly 60% of responders have suffered inconvenience including those in same predicament as myself who have seen the complete withdrawal of evening and Sundays services without consultation.
|What have you seen/ encountered :||Bus stop flag not updated 27, |
Bus stop printed timetables not updated 24,
Nothing encountered 9
Bus showing wrong route number 9,
Bus showing wrong destination 8
Bus stop/interchange Real Time showing incorrect details 7
Over half noticed bus stop flags and timetables needed updating indicating they are of valuable assistance when travelling and not just there to promote brand awareness in a multi-faceted transport landscape.
The eight responders who were alert enough to notice each category are a potential asset to TfWM.
|Statements that you agree with :||None of below 26, |
Bus operators had to make changes to reflect lower usage and reduce costs 16,
Bus operators had made changes to benefit bus users 4
Passengers have been fully informed and consulted 2
Nearly 60% of responders didn’t understand the need for the service changes which indicates a lack of effective reasoned advance communication as promised in the Bus Alliance Customer Charter.
The promises of approaching those affected, listening, providing information and obtaining feedback in the charter were also broken which were apparent from heartfelt remarks made in the comments field.
41 of the 45 responders have legitimate feedback capable of being resolved by influential leaders.
It is apparent from personal experiences that the potential exists for this survey to be used to obtain feedback in person from offline bus users who require assistance to have their justified concerns heard. West Midlands’ bus users can receive the standard of service enjoyed in other cities such as Nottingham if the will exists.
Editor’s comment: Once again, many thanks to those who participated in our survey, and special thanks to John for taking the time to analyse the results for me, and for presenting this to TfWM this week, your comments and feedback have been taken on board, and we are told that the issues with bus stop flags and printed timetables that are incorrect or out-of-date will be resolved within the next two weeks. We hope to run more similar surveys in the future, so please feel free to subscribe to this blog if you wish to keep informed.