The TUC is today (Monday 27 July) urging West Yorkshire’s council leaders to press ahead with plans to take the region’s bus services into public control.
At a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority taking place this morning, councillors will be presented with a recommendation to regulate the privately run bus market for the first time in 30 years.
The union body is supporting council leaders in taking this significant step in the franchising process.
The TUC is calling for public control of the bus network, after the pandemic has proved private companies cannot provide value for money when running a public service.
During the pandemic, bus services have been operating at 15% of pre-pandemic levels, but despite this, in April alone the government asked the Combined Authority to pay out £4.31 million to private operators (according to WYCA’s own figures).
Despite this, local councils and WYCA do not control how or where bus services operate.
Funding for local bus services in West Yorkshire has been cut by more than a third (-36%) since 2010, according to TUC analysis.
TUC figures show 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.
Analysis published by the union federation published in December revealed that council funding for key local services – including transport – have been slashed by £850 million in Yorkshire and the Humber since the turn of the decade.
Campaign for Better Transport research shows that 54 local bus routes in the region have been lost or reduced in 2019. This is despite the fact that almost 60% of journeys on public transport in Britain are made on buses.
Private bus companies have continued to pay out dividends, despite cuts to services
The TUC says that despite cuts to local services private bus operators are still paying large sums to shareholders.
In 2017 more than £6 million was paid out to shareholders of the five biggest private bus companies operating in the region.
Millions of miles of bus routes have been lost
Government data also shows that commercially run buses in West Yorkshire are travelling 10 million fewer miles than since 2014, the earliest date available for local authority figures. This represents a loss of 10% of commercial route miles.
The union body has campaigned for public ownership of buses for a number of years, and welcomes this as one step closer to achieving a bus system that works for people, not profit.
TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:
“West Yorkshire’s bus network is broken. The pandemic has proved that privately run buses do not serve the interests of passengers or their communities.
“We fully support Council leaders in seeking public control of our bus network.
““Local bus services are a vital lifeline for communities across the region. People use them to get to work, see friends and family and take trips to town.
“But Conservative cuts to local government have led to thousands of bus routes being cancelled or reduced.
“If that wasn’t bad enough private bus operators have continued to pay out dividends as services have been cut back.
“Working families deserve a bus network fit for the 21st century. Not one run on the cheap for the benefit of shareholders.
“We look forward to seeing council leaders vote for public control of our buses.”
- Where not stated, figures come from TUC Y&H press release 5 December 2019, available on our website
- 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.
Gareth Forest (Lewis)
0113 200 1075
TUC national press office
020 7467 1248
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