We have had enough: Andy Burnham bring our buses into public control.

We have had enough: Andy Burnham bring our buses into public control.

When 1000 people in Greater Manchester were surveyed, 82% agreed that local authorities should have more control over bus services in Greater Manchester, as they provide public money for the bus network, for example through subsidies for certain services.

Put less politely, we in Greater Manchester are sick and tired of paying for expensive, unreliable and unaccountable buses. 

Stagecoach Greater Manchester has relaunched a previous partnership proposal, way after the public consultation has finished and in the weeks before we expect Andy Burnham’s final decision on whether we bring our buses into public control. 

We think this proposal is insulting to the people of Greater Manchester in many ways. 

Just to start, this bus company’s calls to continue being allowed to control the bus network came on the same day as reports that the only bus to one village is being axed by the bus companies. In our campaigning group we know someone who says she will be ‘a prisoner in her own home.’ The bus companies, who say that 9 in 10 customers are satisfied, will always put profit before passengers. That’s why we need public control to demand more of the services we pay for, through our tax (40% of their revenue) and our fares.

The offer they made to have a ‘partnership’ (meaning bus companies keep control widely of fares, routes, ticketing, and timetables), was originally £100 million. This time, they have £142 million, showing that they have enough cash to provide a lot more, but they don’t. Bus companies bring out offers when it looks as if their cash cow is under threat. But the reality is they have been in control for 30 years and they could have done any of the things they now offer at any point.

Bus companies in the North West could have bought green buses, but instead they chose to give £184 million out to their shareholders over the past ten years. 

Now they say they will spend millions on them. But when the issue of non-polluting buses came up a few months ago, the bus companies said they ‘may have to pass pollution tax charge onto passenger fares'.

Elizabeth Tasker, MD of Stagecoach Manchester, says they want to "give the region the high quality bus network it deserves”.  Why now, when public control is on the table?

The reality is bus companies don't like public control because it means more money goes to buses over shareholders. Under public control, bus companies make reduced profits, which means more of your money goes to the services that give your family better job opportunities, would give you better links to the hospital and would allow you to meet with your friends easily. 

This is because under public control, bus companies are given contracts to run buses to a certain standard. We could finally get simple oyster card-like ticketing, which you could use easily on any bus, tram or train. Public control makes this much easier, and would save us from confusion over the 140 ticket types available

With public control, profits from busy routes can be used to pay for socially necessary routes. We could get affordable fares and buses back on the road to make up for the 8 million miles cut from the bus network here since 2010. 

This vital change would mean that busy routes in South Manchester could help pay for routes in North Manchester which is utterly under-served currently

This proposal from Stagecoach is notable in only wanting to improve South Manchester, where they already have a base. Bus companies put easy profits over serving communities.

London’s buses were never deregulated. Their buses run 24 hours a day, with £1.50 flat fares and services that run all over the region. We have a huge chance here to get better, publicly controlled buses for our region, to be the first to overturn Thatcher’s bus laws. 

If the Mayor of Greater Manchester has any respect for citizens and passengers, and for that woman who could become a ‘prisoner in her own home’, he will not be wooed by this last ditch attempt to keep control from the bus companies through a partnership deal. 

He will stick with citizens and go for public control of our buses, because that’s what we deserve.

 

P.S. Take Action: Tell Burnham to stick with citizens by tweeting him here!

Comments

Stuart Moran replied on

It’s time buses have had a huge shakeup but bringing them back into public control or ownership as it’s the way to get communities connected.

Norman Gerrard replied on

Will Burnham keep his promise the hasn't up to now or 715 in Wigan leaving whole communities cut off his silence is deafening

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