Labour will give greater control over local bus services to cities and country regions

Labour is launching a new campaign– called ‘Passenger Power’ – about putting communities and passengers in control of local bus services. Labour will hand powers back to local to save crucial bus routes.

Across England, over 1,300 bus routes have been cut since 2010. People living in rural areas in particular are seeing their bus services disappear. In rural areas, the number of miles of local bus service has dropped by a massive 23 per cent compared to 2010.

At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 – an increase five times faster than wage growth. Over the same period, operating costs for local bus services has stayed the same. The new figures reveal that bus passenger fare receipts from this year were half a billion pounds more than in 2010. And the operating revenue for the bus companies has increased by four per cent since 2010.

Bus companies have been cutting crucial routes that people rely at the same time as increasing fares to maximise their own profits. Like the energy companies, the bus market is broken.

Labour is setting out a new plan for local bus services to fix the problems. The next Labour Government will legislate to give greater control over local bus services to cities and county regions. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.

Commenting, Cllr Julian Ware-Lane said:

“Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities.

“Whilst the bus companies are coining it in, local bus routes are being slashed and this Government says everything is fine.

“The bus market is clearly broken and the way local services are provided is not fit for purpose. Labour will stand up for passengers by changing the way things work to hand all English regions London-style powers over local bus services. This will ensure communities get the local bus services they need.”

Local Labour councillors having been working to improve local services and the powers that an incoming Labour Government would give local authorities would make this an easier task than it is at the moment.

Labour’s Passenger Power campaign:

The bus industry is stacked against ordinary people with a handful of companies making vast profits.

• We want city and county regions to have the powers necessary to ensure we get value for money from taxpayers’ subsidy.

• We want the bus companies to put greater emphasis on their responsibility to our communities rather than their profits and executive bonuses.

• We want our communities to be properly connected by efficient, clean and affordable buses.

• We believe this Government’s shameful lack of care about buses as resulted in an ever more centralised market where the bus barons take the decisions about which communities thrive and which are left isolated.

• The next Labour Government will legislate for a simple, timely procedure for cities and county regions to be given greater control over local bus services. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, cities will be able to provide seamless travel at one clearly understood price.

• We believe that there are other company models which cities and county regions could explore in order to break the strangle hold of the privatised operators.

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