How far and where by public bus

public busAs a business interested in public transport, Rural Techs would be rude not to share the news of Jo Kibble’s trip this week. Not least because of the debate that it stirred on Twitter about the role of the public bus in the UK.

The Starting Question

Over the last 18 months Jo set himself the challenge of working out how far he could travel in 24 hours from the centre of London by public bus services. The answer is 260 to Morecambe was successfully achieved on August 20th despite one missed connection.

To work out the route took some 18 months of part-time activity often paper-based and during his daily commute in order to answer his question. For most people travelling that question is not a normal one. More usually it’s I want to get to X, what goes there and when does it go. Not I want to spend 24 hours on a bus getting as far as I can from the geographic centre of London.

Starting questions are important to make apps intuitive and useful. As designers of rural transport solutions using technology, Rural Techs must admit that we hadn’t yet considered how to optimise Jo’s question. But we are focusing on how we create seamless integration between different transport operators and geographies to enable all whether urban or rural to travel wherever they want. So, his question is on our technology roadmap for 2023!

The Ensuing Conversation

Equally interesting is the twitter conversation on #bus24. This reveals much about how bus travel is seen and how it’s part of the UK culture. Whether this is Jo’s tweets or other commentators. The former reveals other users of services and passenger types as the day progresses; the vehicles and branding of operators; and the facilities offered from the dire to celebrations of bus station form and function.

For other commentators there is:

  • appreciation of the quirkiness of the quest,
  • the important role that the public bus serves in the UK and
  • the part those services play as part of British identity.

As a nation we believe we can could travel anywhere we want without using a car and therefore everyone is able to travel easily. The rural reality is somewhat different and a challenge we will increasingly face with climate change and the need to level up the economy.