§ Mr. Bellingham
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence he has that deregulation will increase the market for bus travel.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
It is widely acknowledged that deregulation will bring down prices and improve services on many routes particularly in urban areas; and that price reductions and improved frequency increase patronage. The scope for this has recently been demonstrated in Exeter, where changes in the quality of commercial services have brought a 100 per cent. increase in patronage. Deregulation of express services in 1980 produced a 45 per cent. increase in passenger carryings on NBC services alone, alongside an increase in the market share of independent operators from almost nothing to 30 per cent. In the only urban trial area, Hereford, no patronage figures are available but the 78 per cent. increase in bus kilometres between 1981 and 1984 indicates higher demand.