In plans announced by leader Ed Miliband, Labour plan to allow Counties to set bus routes and set fares, as well as being able to integrate transport services. This will give East Sussex County Council similar powers to regulate bus services as those in London.
In Hastings and Rye, Labour’s parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen welcomed the news and said,
“This is precisely what we need to help protect our local bus services. For the thousands of bus users in Hastings & Rye, and particularly those who supported our Don’t Stop our Bus campaign to save 99 routes across East Sussex, this could turn around the cycle of dwindling bus services, cuts and constant fare increases.
“In the future, we, as an area, would have a direct say over what bus routes we need and we can ensure they are properly integrated with other public transport.”
Announcing the policy Ed Miliband said,
“Labour will legislate so that counties can set fares, decide routes, and integrate bus services with trams, trains and the wider public transport network. Bus services and public transport should be the arteries that keep our regional economics moving, our roads less clogged with cars, and working people travelling to where businesses need them. We will put the public interest back on our buses.”
At present most regions have a strong in-built bias towards heavily deregulated bus provision which prevents them from delivering integrated public transport plans that would allow Oyster card-style ticketing and joined up networks with rail services. It also prevents them combining a transport plan with a growth strategy.
Labour’s plan would allow county regions which come together in combined authorities to use a simple and swift procedure for getting greater control over local bus services – setting routes and fares, introducing smarter ticketing, and integrating those services with wider public transport and growth plans.
This will mean that rather than different private companies or Whitehall taking decisions about public transport, local areas would be put in the driving seat. Similar models exist successfully in many other countries, including Denmark, and local areas already franchise for some other services in a similar way, for example the Tyne and Wear Metro.
For more information please contact Michael Wincott on 07743 349682 or email Michael_Wincott@labour.org.uk