Bus patronage has been declining in Great Britain at about 4 per cent per year from 1960 to 1979. In order to see how the future trend is likely to be affected by the level of subsidy provided and by different assumptions regarding the economic climate in which public transport operates (including future trends in car ownership and the price of fuel), a simple bus patronage prediction model has been constructed and used to predict the number of bus journeys up to the end of the century. Two versions of the model have been developed: one which categorises trips by purpose and type of traveller, and another which combines all these trip types but deals separately with different regions of the country. In both types households are categorised by car ownership (no car, one car, and two or more) and their trip rates calibrated using National Travel Survey data. Future bus travel was found to be sensitive to the level of economic growth assumed for the economy and to the amount of bus subsidy provided. It is estimated that by the end of the century bus patronage will have fallen by about 42 per cent relative to the 1979 base year if subsidy is kept constant in real terms and the economy grows at 2 per cent per year. If the subsidy is phased out (though still keeping the concessions for the elderly and school children), patronage is likely to fall by 51 per cent of its 1979 value, while on the other hand patronage could be held constant if subsidy grew in reals terms at about 8.5 per cent per year. Lower growth rates of the economy are likely to result in a smaller loss of patronage; similarly increasing fuel prices are also likely to favour public transport but it would require dramatic rises in fuel costs between now and the end of the century (with the real price of fuel rising to probably 3.5 times the present price) for patronage to retain its 1979 value, assuming subsidy remains constant. (A)

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