Ten ways regulating your buses will make them better

Ten ways regulating your buses will make them better

Since deregulation 30 years ago, bus use has gone down 40% in Manchester, while in London, (where they have a regulated network, or ‘franchising’) it has doubled. Andy Burnham has yet not decided however whether he wants to franchise the network. 

Here’s 10 big ways that regulation will mean better buses for Greater Manchester.

  1. With one body running the network, they can finally introduce a simple ticket card you can use on any bus or tram with a daily cap on spend. 

  2. Local authorities would set and enforce the timetabling of buses across Greater Manchester, so buses are far more reliable. They would also be more evenly-spaced, joining up with other forms of transport, and stopping inconvenient and sometimes scary long waits.

  3. Fares would be cheaper and consistent. In London, where the bus network is regulated, fares are £1.50, for a journey which could be an hour plus. Right now, bus company shareholders, just in the North West, are receiving £18 million a year on average in pay-out dividends, much of that is public money. With the money saved by running services on a contract basis (much more cost efficient than letting companies pick routes and take almost double the profit margins), we could reduce fares.

  4. We could access comprehensive, easy-to-find information. Bus companies would be obliged to share more information with TfGM, so we could know if and trust that the bus was actually going to turn up at that time. Realistic schedules could be set by Transport for Greater Manchester for each service in advance. There would be penalties  on the bus companies for under performing and rewards for keeping to schedule. Unreliable buses are a big problem all across Greater Manchester, which really impacts on our lives.

  5. Profits from popular routes could be used to subsidise less busy routes so all communities have a decent service. This is done easily across in London and across Europe, as in regulated networks the council redistributes profits, rather than pocketing them

  6. The network could be expanded to run desperately needed evening and weekend services. These services could be started up again, as bus companies are effectively told what services to run, and when, under a regulated network  (see point 5 for how we would pay for extra services). In Greater Manchester, we lost 8 million miles of bus services from 2014 to 2018. That's 11% of the service. The North West's bus network has shrunk more than any other region.

  7. Region-wide standards of accessibility for disabled users could be introduced and constantly improved by local authorities (see more here). We need audio-visual announcements and free companion passes for care workers of disabled people, as a starter. Standards could be set for emissions, the quality of the buses, cleanliness. We need to be in control of the standards of buses now more than ever, when air quality is such a threat to our health. Right now, local authorities are at the whim of companies’ kindness for better buses, higher standards and more training, which has led to wild inconsistencies across different services. With local authorities setting standards, companies providing our buses are more accountable to us. 

  8. Make sure that bus drivers and staff are valued in their work and get good pay and conditions. We need and want staff to be happy. We’ve seen inconsistent pay for drivers across different depots in Greater Manchester, showing how bus companies are not playing fair. Regulating the network would allow us to set sector wide standards across the region for pay, conditions and pensions to win more for all drivers and other hard working staff. Drivers terms and conditions 'have dramatically worsened' since the de-regulation of buses in the 80s.

  9. Plan routes for you which actually join up with other modes of transport. TfGM would have oversight of the network and decide where services go, so buses could join up with trams and trains better. We can’t get integration with over 30 different companies running buses in Greater Manchester.

  10. Bring in measures to fast lane buses. If councils were regulating the bus network and they were being held to account on their performance, it would be in their incentive to introduce more bus lanes, which would allow for much quicker journeys. Right now, introducing bus lanes is difficult, and people are understandably reluctant to do this without assurance that this bus lane will be used by a bus company. With bus services being run on a contract basis, authorities will know in advance whether a service is going to run for 5-10 years. This leads us on to another added bonus (number 11!) - the network will be more stable! You can trust a service will run for years rather getting caught out; with what we have now, routes will be cancelled with only 70 days notice. 

Right now, you have a chance to change your bus network and create a regulated and integrated bus system that works for you, not shareholders. 

We need to make sure that Andy Burnham sticks to his word and picks the option that uses your tax money efficiently, getting you to your loved ones, your jobs and the services you need.

Sign the petition today.