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Many people at this event expressed that they do not regularly use the bus because they often do not understand how the bus works. This has led to fear and reluctance to use the bus as they are scared of not knowing how to use it properly. Therefore, they avoid it altogether, often opting to walk to their destinations instead. Attendees also highlighted that the information provided at bus stops was not clear and often did not make sense to them, reducing their likelihood of using the bus. Another concern expressed was that attendees did not know how to get to places by using the bus.

Improvements to encourage residents to use the bus should, therefore, prioritise making information about bus travel, timetables and routes clear and accessible for all. One way this has been suggested for improvement is through more information screens at bus stops, as attendees expressed that they found these really useful. Furthermore, potentially providing general information about how to use the bus may reduce psychological barriers which make residents afraid and unsure of how to use the bus.

Tickets and Routes

The price of tickets was also highlighted as a common barrier for many of the people at this event. Particularly, because most of the attendees came from families on free school meals, they highlighted that the bus is too expensive to justify its use when they are struggling to afford food. Furthermore, they felt that the bus would be far too expensive to travel as a family. They also expressed frustration at the need for separate tickets for each bus service. This discourages them from using the buses as they would either have to wait a long time for the same bus provider to arrive or have to walk further to catch a bus home.

Therefore, one ticket at a single price which could be used across all bus services in the city would be beneficial for encouraging this group to use the buses more regularly. Additionally, some attendees highlighted that there are very few or no bus routes available in the area where they live, meaning it is virtually impossible for them to use the buses. Ensuring that all areas of Portsmouth are reasonably well-serviced by bus routes may increase the number of people who use buses in this case.


Many attendees further highlighted that their experiences of using the bus had not always been pleasant, discouraging them from using the bus in the future. This was largely highlighted through the attitudes and behaviours of bus drivers, who they described as rude and unhelpful. Particularly as this group had expressed that they have difficulty understanding how the bus works, bus drivers were not described as helpful or friendly when passengers did not understand something or asked questions. For example, one attendee highlighted that they only had a ten pound note to pay for their bus fare and was rudely turned away by the driver.

Furthermore, when one attendee asked for help understanding the route of the bus, the driver was not interested in helping them and they were told to leave the bus. Therefore, ensuring that drivers are friendly, encouraging and understanding that passengers may not know how the bus works could encourage people to use the bus more regularly.

Suggestions for further research

Through the research at the HAF event, it was found that students are likely to be the most regular users of the bus service in the future. Therefore, it has been suggested that further research should specifically engage with this group in order to understand their current views and experiences of using the bus. This would enable an understanding and investigation into what would encourage them to use the bus more regularly, in order to feed into future bus improvement schemes.

One suggestion was that engagement officers could travel by bus in a ‘mystery-shopping’ style manner in order to understand the regular, everyday experience of bus travel. Particularly, this should be carried out on routes with children going to school to better understand how they could be supported by schemes to improve the bus service in the future.

Furthermore, it was suggested that further focus groups should be carried out across the wider community. These should aim to investigate the perception and experience of accessibility when using the bus in order to inform future developments in ensuring the bus service is accessible to all.