Labour's plan to fix broken bus system

Shock new figures reveal thousands of bus services have been axed under the Conservatives, as Labour today (Friday 28 April) pledges the first steps in the biggest bus overhaul in decades.

Despite the Conservatives promising services that “run so often you wouldn’t need a timetable”, in 2022 the total number of miles driven by buses plummeted by 175 million compared to 2016, with over 1,000 services lost in the last year alone.

Meanwhile fares surged by 51%, almost twice as fast as wages since 2010 putting huge pressure on passengers.

Today, Labour will announce the first steps in plans to reform the country’s broken bus system and hand power and control to local communities.

On a visit to Stoke-on-Trent, which has seen one of the highest falls in bus numbers in the country, the Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh will vow the biggest reform to the bus sector in 40 years.

Britain is one of the only countries in the developed world where bus operators have the power to set routes and fares, with no say for local communities.

Labour will end this broken system and hand power and control to local communities through the Take Back Control Act in the first King’s Speech of a Labour government. This bold plan would represent the first steps in the biggest reform to the bus sector in a generation and put communities firmly back in control of the services they depend on.

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said:

The millions that depend on our buses are being failed.

“Communities are facing a crisis – and the out-of-touch Tories simply don’t get it.

“Labour will fix our broken bus system – and we’ll do it by giving power and control of bus services to the communities who depend on them.”

Labour’s plan to fix Britain’s broken bus system:

Labour’s bold plan for change would represent the first steps in the biggest reform to the bus sector in a generation and put communities firmly back in control of the public transport they depend on.

Decades of failed deregulation have left communities with little say over the essential services they rely on.

It has handed operators enormous power to raise fares and slash routes, and in many cases cut communities off altogether.

As a result bus usage has almost halved outside of London, and many towns and rural areas are forced to rely on a shockingly bad, unaffordable service.

Labour’s bold plans would give every community the power over local bus services, taking control over routes and fares out of the hands of private operators and handing it to local communities.

Labour’s bus reform plan would do three things:

  • Allow communities to Take Back Control of Bus Services: Labour would give all local transport authorities the power to Take Back Control of bus services, extending the opportunity to franchise services to every community, currently only available to metro mayors.
  • Streamline the process to take back control with a presumption in favour of franchising, ending the costly and time consuming hurdles which delay much-needed reform by years, and prevent communities from having a say in how their bus services are run. Smaller local transport authorities will be offered expert advice and support in order to assist with the path towards taking back control of services, with the bus directorate in the Department for Transport delivering support to local transport authorities.
  • Lift the legal ban on municipal bus ownership introduced by the Conservatives in 2017 following intensive lobbying by vested interests. This would allow communities to establish their own municipal bus network, building on the success of areas like award-winning Nottingham which have amongst the highest satisfaction ratings and passenger numbers per head in the country.



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