Since the 1940s both bus users in London and train passengers everywhere else have been represented by official organisations. But there was no such representation for bus passengers outside the capital – not even when bus services were deregulated under the 1985 Transport Act.
In response, Dr Caroline Cahm led a campaign to set up the National Federation of Bus Users (NFBU) to act as an umbrella organisation for local groups of bus users.
As the organisation grew, surgeries were set up to give passengers the opportunity to discuss their views with their local bus company management. The NFBU and bus companies’ trade association, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, came on board to sort out complaints on bus services; the NFBU acting on behalf of the passenger, the CPT on behalf of the bus operator.
Impressed with the work of the NFBU, in 2002 the Welsh Government funded passenger representation in Wales and an office was opened in Cardiff, employing local staff.
In 2004 the NFBU became Bus Users UK and its work has gone from strength to strength.
Bus Users UK has long been recognised by the Department for Transport and in 2010, the DfT formally announced that Bus Users UK would continue to undertake passenger complaints work.
Further recognition of its role came in 2013 when the Scottish Government agreed to fund Bus Users Scotland to undertake complaints and surgeries.
Bus Users UK undertakes compliance monitoring in both Wales and Scotland to check how well bus services are running to timetable and when necessary provide evidence to Traffic Commissioners.
Most recently, the DfT officially named Bus Users the Nominated Body to oversee bus service complaint handling under the EU Passenger Rights Directive, which was extended to cover bus and coach passengers in March 2013.