Commenting on the news today (Monday) that the Department for Transport will establish a base in Leeds, and on the government’s long awaited National Bus Strategy announcement, TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:
“We won’t take pie crust promises on transport investment.”
“Whilst we welcome the creation on any new jobs in our region, the government have undermined their own announcement by gutting Transport for the North’s budget.
“The only way to reverse decades of decay in our transport network is for government to hand over the power and the money to mayors and local councils – so that local communities can fix the transport problems that central government have let fester.
“A real announcement on transport investment from Grant Shapps would have been a promise for government to fund every penny of West Yorkshire’s mass transit system, or to fully fund an expansion of the Sheffield SuperTram – but without interfering with local decision making.”
On the National Bus Strategy, Bill Adams said:
“The government’s recognition that the wild west free market in buses must end is welcome and long awaited.
“It is only by recognising the failed 36 year record of bus privatisation that has led to a catastrophic decline in bus patronage in Yorkshire, whilst local control of bus services in London has led to record growth, that we can begin to plan for a better bus service for our communities and our climate.
“But the government’s own 2017 Bus Services Act is a huge impediment to delivering the better bus vision the government sets out in this strategy, because it makes franchising so hard and expensive for local government.
“The strategy could have set out to simplify the franchising process, allowing mayors to bring in integrated ticketing and flat fares in a snap. Instead it sets out vague commitments for a national approach which will leave city regions who want to press ahead chomping at the bit.
“In addition, government imposed cuts to local authority funding over the last decade have forced councils to end many evening and weekend services for local communities. Our councils know what our communities need. Government could easily achieve improvements in our bus systems by giving councils more money and cutting their own red tape.
“The government missed a huge opportunity to deliver the better bus system they claim they want. Despite this, the cue from government is now clear: mayors and local authorities should begin the franchising process, to bring our buses back into public control, as soon as possible.
“We know that London’s bus franchising model is far more successful than the rest of England’s failed free market system.”
On green manufacturing in the Bus Strategy, Bill Adams added:
“The recommitment to building 4,000 new green buses in the UK will be reassuring for the hundreds of bus factory workers in Yorkshire who have faced uncertainty about the future of their industry thanks to government delays on this manufacturing pledge.
“But building 4,000 green buses is no use when they’re shipped out to New Zealand rather than to Leeds, Sheffield or York. We need to see the government require social value procurement of bus operators. They should buy local to support local, green, unionised jobs.”
Department for Transport figures show that since privatisation in 1986, passenger journeys in Yorkshire & the Humber have declined by 466 million. The region has also lost 29 million miles of bus route since 1986.
TUC analysis shows that funding for local bus services in Yorkshire and the Humber has been cut by more than a third (-36%) since 2010. The analysis shows that in 2010 funding for bus services in the region was £60 million. But by 2018 this had fallen to £38 million as a result of Conservative cuts to local government funding.
Notes to editors:
- TUC analysis on bus funding cuts to local authorities can be found here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/funding-local-bus-services-yorkshire-and-humber-down-third-2010-tuc-analysis
- TUC reaction to the 40% funding cuts to Transport for the North can be found here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/northern-mayors-and-union-leaders-urge-transport-secretary-rethink-tfn-cuts
- DfT figures on bus route miles lost can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/bus02-vehicle-distance-travelled
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
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