Crime on buses drops 17% in three years, yet Manchester passengers fear travelling more than rest of UK

By Reece Lawrence

Manchester commuters feel more uncomfortable on bus journeys due to anti-social behaviour than almost anywhere in the country – despite crime on buses dropping by 17% over the last three years.

A recent survey has revealed that more than one in eight passengers polled in the region felt others gave them cause to feel uncomfortable – a statistic second only to Birmingham, where tragically 16-year-old Christina Edkins was stabbed to death as she travelled on the bus to school.

The Bus Passenger Survey also showed only 53% of customers felt that bus travel provided value for money – less than the national average.

According to the survey carried out by Passenger Focus, overall satisfaction levels were rated at 82%, while the issues such as value for money, punctuality and length of journeys were also covered.

Michael Renshaw, Transport for Greater Manchester Bus and Rail Director, said: “We continue to work with our partners including Greater Manchester Police and bus operators in tackling criminal and anti-social behaviour on and around bus services.

“We are pleased that in partnership with bus companies and GMP we have been able to secure such positive results.

“A number of initiatives have been put in place to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and, as the statistics show, these have been very successful.”

Around 70% of Greater Manchester buses now carry CCTV equipment.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, the anti-social behaviour lead for GMP, said the results were really promising and showed that by working together with TfGM passengers could be reassured in travelling across Greater Manchester in safety.

He added: “Anti-social behaviour can really affect a person’s quality of life and having to experience it while travelling is not acceptable.”

Last year was particularly promising for the police-assisted Crime Reduction on Public Transport initiative, as a 10% reduction in criminal or anti-social activity was noted.

Between October and November just 269 incidents in the region were recorded – a massive 43% fall from cases over the same period in 2011.

Sergeant Tariq Butt, from GMP, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe in their community and that includes feeling safe on public transport.

“Officers regularly patrol buses to deter anti-social behaviour such as large groups of school children being rowdy on their way home or drunken revellers committing alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour in the evening.”

He said that as part of Operation Gateway – which involves officers patrolling key bus routes at peak times – GMP were working with bus inspectors to make life difficult for the small minority of people who think it acceptable to indulge in criminal behaviour against bus passengers, drivers and the buses themselves.

He added: “If you witness anti-social behaviour on the bus, please do not suffer in silence. Call your neighbourhood policing team and let them know so that we can do something about it.”

First bus, one operator of services in the city, was satisfied with the results of the survey.

Dave Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First in North England, said heavy investment in the quality of buses in Greater Manchester over the last few years meant customers were now seeing the benefits.

He added: “Where the survey has highlighted areas to work on, we have already drawn up plans to improve our performance.”

Picture courtesy of Pimlico Badger, with thanks.

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