This morning the Transport Select Committee published their report on the state of local bus markets, which can be read here:
I have very strong personal opinions about buses and what needs to be done:
– they are vital; vital for cities and urban areas for getting people to jobs, access to skills and health and recreation; vital for rural areas in connecting people and communities
– they should be more highly regarded – a good way to do this is to raise their perception by making them the top priority on all roads through blanket bus priority measures everywhere
– we need bus franchising, as in London, across the country. Commercial operators are slashing the socially necessary routes and retaining the commercial (profitable) routes, so we are seeing profitable buses in private hands making money and socially necessary unprofitable routes paid for by taxpayers – why not franchise out networks and cross-subsidise?
– as buses are vital to the health and wealth of the country, they should be organised and managed by transport authorities who can design and let the franchise networks
– why should profit from bus fares not go into keeping fares low and quality high?
The TSC report found that 50% of all bus journeys in England are made in London, London has grown ints bus market in contrast to the rest of the country. London is the only place that has seen significant funds available to invest in buses as well as being the only place to have franchising powers – this is not a coincidence…
We need to invest in buses and we need to raise their profile – they are absolutely vital and many people in our society rely on buses as their sole means of transport. It is absolutely not good enough to continue as we are – it is a bum deal for many passengers, for society, for our economy, for the lives of the many that need buses to get about with their daily business.
This report is a good start but we need action on buses right now.