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How to get Gen-Z back on the bus

This week is Catch the Bus Week which encourages us all to leave our cars at home and get on board with public transport. But with bus use falling each year, it is crucial that we recognise the needs of passengers and provide a service that will position buses as one of the most efficient modes of transport. According to the Department for Transport, the number of bus journeys in the UK fell by 90 million between 2017 and 2018, reinforcing the sense that something needs to change to reverse this downward trend.

The first step for bus operators is to really understand the type of passengers travelling on their networks. In a recent study, Transport Focus found that 16 to 18-year-olds make up the highest percentage of bus users, but are equally the least satisfied with bus services amongst all demographics.

This dissatisfaction stems from the transport industry’s slow adjustment to the digital shift we are seeing throughout all other industries, particularly retail. Given that today’s teenager has grown up in a technology-saturated world, there is an inherent expectation for every aspect of day-to-day life to be made as easy as sending a WhatsApp message. The transport industry needs to keep up with this demand. Transport Focus’ latest survey in May revealed that 16 to 18-year olds want cheaper fares for their age group that are easier to understand, USB ports and WiFi available on every service and a nation-wide easy to use smartphone bus app for journey planning and buying tickets. Essentially, young people want riding the bus to be as simple as ordering a pizza, and this is what we are trying to achieve.

ITSO on Mobile forms a large part of the puzzle that will make public transport more accessible for Gen-Z passengers. Delivered by ITSO Transit Hub, the mobile ticketing technology enables the emulation of a physical smartcard onto a smartphone, meaning that the tech-savvy teen passenger would only need to carry their most trusted device. ITSO on Mobile’s sophisticated technology also means that it can handle complex fare options, such as discounted tickets.

This Catch the Bus Week, we are urging bus operators to take note of their younger passengers and help the transport industry keep up with the shift towards digitalisation.