News: Labour pledges London-style bus powers across England

“Ed Miliband has promised that a Labour government would grant cities and regions greater powers to improve bus services across England. In a speech in Manchester the Labour leader said: “For too long, powers to regulate and integrate bus services have been enjoyed only by London. For too long, the other regions of England have been unable to plan ahead or join up their transport networks to help secure the prosperity they need.”

He said ordinary working people have been let down by the deregulated bus system. “Labour will legislate so that city and county regions 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.”

Under the Labour proposals cities and counties should be able to set bus fares and routes and integrate them with local tram and rail services. He claimed that bus services outside London currently “fail to serve the public interest”. But the chief executive of the Stagecoach Group, Martin Griffiths, said: “This uncosted and unnecessary plan would land people in England’s biggest city regions overnight with a tax bill running to hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as leading to higher bus fares.”

Labour’s plans could mean more Oyster card-style travel outside London. Greater Manchester is already rolling out its “get me there” travel card across its Metrolink trams” BBC 31st October 2015 Read more here.

CBT’s Chief Executive Stephen Joseph said: “We have long campaigned for integrated public transport and particularly multi-modal, multi-operator tickets as part of giving people fairer fares. While there are some examples out there already, anything that spreads and strengthens this has to welcomed. Labour’s proposals are hugely significant and put this issue at the front of politics – we want other parties to come up with their own proposals for giving people the fairer fares they need. This policy needs to be backed by ring fenced funding for transport, as in London, to give authorities and operators a proper long term investment framework”.