Corbyn promises £1.3bn per year to bus industry

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CPT welcomes recognition of importance of buses, but trade body rebuffs plans for public ownership

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged £1.3bn per year to reverse cuts made to buses since 2010.

Claiming that services have “been devastated by nine years of austerity,” Mr Corbyn also confirmed Labour’s policy of re-regulation and bringing services’ operation into public ownership. It would also remove fares for young people.

He was speaking last week during a visit to the East Midlands, and highlighted the work undertaken by municipally-owned Nottingham City Transport (NCT). By the end of 2019, NCT plans to have 120 biogas-fuelled Scania ADL double-deckers in service.

Austerity: ‘Disastrous consequences'

No mention is made of where the funding would be found to enact Labour’s policies relating to buses, but Mr Corbyn says that its will create “thriving networks” under state control. That would mitigate the impact of climate change and poor air quality, he adds.

“Thousands of routes have been axed, fares have soared and passenger numbers are in freefall,” he adds. “Bus cuts have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres, and for air pollution and the environment.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) cautiously welcomed recognition of buses’ importance to passengers and in rural areas, saying that it applauds initiatives designed to bolster networks.

However, Interim CEO Peter Gomersall adds that CPT remains convinced that passengers are best served by the commercial market. “That has stemmed the decline in patronage, and it has given operators the flexibility to respond and develop services accordingly,” says Mr Gomersall.

LA funding cuts to blame?

“In most cases, cuts have occurred in areas where local authorities have withdrawn financial support for non-commercial routes.

“Passengers continue to give bus services a ringing endorsement. Results from the annual Transport Focus Bus Passenger Satisfaction Survey reported an average satisfaction score of 88%. That is an extraordinary result that many industries can only aspire to achieve.”