Today, the North East Combined Authority Transport sub-committee will be discussing the Bus Services Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.
On behalf of Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group, and in line with our management committee, I want to express some of the reservations we have with regards to the content of this Bill, in particular Clause 21, which will prevent any local authority from establishing their own bus company.
We do welcome the opportunity the Bill will give to local authorities to introduce franchising contracts with the private bus operators as this could improve the bus services in our region by giving Nexus the right to decide routes, fares and timetables and create some form of integrated public transport.
However, the Bill effectively leaves the situation much as it is, where private operators will still maintain high profit levels for their shareholders and that means high fares for the passengers.
We want to see a fully integrated public transport service in Tyne and Wear. That is why we call on our transport councillor representatives to lobby for an amendment to the Bill that will remove Clause 21.
We see the municipalisation, ie public ownership, of buses as a vital option so that in future any transport authority in England or Wales may have that right not just to franchise, but to own and control its own bus services.
We hope that the councillors on the Tyne and Wear Transport sub committee will agree to lobby the local MPs to achieve this amendment for us all.
Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group