Labour today (Thursday 18 December) launched ‘Passenger Power’ - a campaign to put communities and passengers in control of local bus services. Labour will hand powers back to local communities to save crucial bus routes.
New government figures have revealed that local bus routes in the North East are being slashed on this Government's watch, leaving people stranded.
The new figures show that compared to 2010, there were 7 million less miles of local bus services in the North East last year.
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 4 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. In the North East, just three of the big bus operators have 91 per cent of the market.
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.
The campaign was launched in Redcar by Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Gordon Marsden and Labour candidate for Redcar, Anna Turley.
Anna Turley said:
“We have seen a number of vital bus routes cut or reduced by Arriva in the Redcar constituency in recent months, including the number 64. We see small villages like Lazenby now completely cut off without any bus service whatsoever. Profit should not determine bus routes as they are a life-line for people getting to work, visiting the doctor or stopping older people becoming isolated. I welcome Labour's plans to bring buses back under the control of local communities.”
Michael Dugher, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said:
"Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities.
"Whilst the bus companies are coining it in, local bus routes in North East 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."