On the buses! Major investment sees surge in bus travel – but has it helped or hindered Aylesbury’s traffic problems?

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Major investment in Aylesbury’s bus routes has brought ‘better than ever expected’ results, a transport leader has said.

There has been a 70% rise in bus trips in Aylesbury in the past 10 years following the introduction of the Rainbow Routes and tens of millions of pounds in infrastructure investment.

David Roberts, passenger transport team leader at Transport for Bucks, said the county has had some of the best results outside of London for getting people using buses.

Around 1.5 million bus trips were made in the Aylesbury network last year, compared to 880,000 in 2002.

Mr Roberts described this as a ‘great result’, adding: “It shows people are prepared to use the buses when you give them a quality product.”

By investing heavily in bus routes around Aylesbury, transport officials hoped to make bus travel more attractive by improving the frequency and quality of services to make people see public transport as a real alternative to driving.

Mr Roberts said: “We realise there are many people who can’t avoid using their car, but there are also many that could if they put their mind to it.

“The infrastructure investment has worked. Cycling and walking are more popular in Aylesbury and I think the Rainbow Route has been an overwhelming success.

“It is not perfect but we are getting there.”

Congestion problems have led many people, including Aylesbury MP David Lidington, to call for a bypass to be built around the town. But county council chiefs do not see this as the solution, preferring to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

Some people have also suggested bus lanes only serve to add to the gridlock, a suggestion Mr Roberts strongly rejected.

He said: “It’s all about how do you get the bus past that congestion without making it worse for general traffic.”

Budget constraints mean there are no major improvements to bus services in the pipeline, but Mr Roberts said when times are hard people should see taking the bus as a good way to save money.