Thousands more people could find work if bus journeys were improved, according to a new report.
A study for Greener Journeys, which promotes sustainable travel, found that four out of five jobseekers were heavily dependent on buses as they did not have access to a private vehicle.
Five billion bus journeys are made every year - three times as many as by rail - but services are under pressure because of spending cuts by councils, said the report.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: "The role of transport in bringing about economic and social prosperity is often significantly underestimated.
"This report is a key breakthrough in demonstrating just how important the bus is in creating and underpinning jobs and growth. We hope decision-makers take notice of original ideas such as our proposal for a bus bonus scheme - which would help commuters with bus commuting costs - as well as
how they can improve reliability and resilience of local transport networks, to harness the full potential
of the bus clearly outlined in this report."
Transport minister Baroness Kramer said: "Buses are the workhorse of the public transport sector, with millions of journeys taken every day. They cut carbon, congestion and drive economic growth. This research is a welcome further contribution to the evidence underpinning the importance of buses to people and to the economy."