THE BLOG

Like With the Rip-off Energy Firms, Labour Is Determined to Take on the Bus Barons

19/12/2014 10:56 GMT | Updated 17/02/2015 10:59 GMT

New Government figures have revealed that compared to 2010, there were 57 million less miles of local bus services last year. That's the same distance as going from Earth to Mercury. And that's why Labour's shadow transport team hit the road this week, campaigning in every English region outside of London to take on the bus barons and promote Ed Miliband's plans for passenger power.

Over 1,300 bus routes have been cut since 2010. People living in rural areas in particular are seeing their bus services disappear. In rural areas, the number of miles of local bus service has dropped by a massive 23 per cent compared to 2010.

At the same time, bus fares are rocketing, going up by 25 per cent since 2010 - an increase five times faster than wage growth. Over the same period, operating costs for local bus services have stayed the same. And new figures also show that bus passenger fare receipts from this year were half a billion pounds more than in 2010.

Bus companies have been cutting crucial routes that people rely on at the same time as whacking up fares to maximise their own profits. Like the energy companies, the bus market is broken.

Currently, 72 per cent of the bus market is run by just five firms: Go-Ahead; Stagecoach; Arriva (under Deutsche Bahn); First Group; and National Express.

These big firms made £518million in 2012/13 and their bosses have enjoyed massive pay packages. For example, Stagecoach's CEO, Martin Griffiths, was paid £2.2million this year, including a £600,000 bonus.

The next Labour government will legislate to give greater control over local bus services to city and county regions. Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.

Local bus services are the lifelines of our communities. Whilst the bus companies and people at the top are coining it in, local bus routes are being slashed and yet - in the same way ministers defend the energy market ripping people off - David Cameron is determined to once again stand up for the wrong people.

The way local bus services are provided is not fit for purpose. Labour will stand up for passengers by changing the way things work to hand all English regions London-style powers over local bus services. This will ensure communities get the local bus services they need and deserve.

Michael Dugher MP is Member of Parliament for Barnsley East and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport