Labour pledges to fix ‘broken’ bus system

Plans to fix England’s “broken” bus system have been unveiled by Labour.

The party has committed to handing more control of routes and fares to local communities, as it published analysis showing thousands of services have been axed under the Conservatives.

It stated that Britain is one of the only countries in the developed world where bus operators have these powers while authorities in the areas they serve have “no say”.

Labour intends to give all transport authorities the ability to take responsibility for services, and make the process quicker.

This power is currently only available to metro mayors.

Buses minister Richard Holden said this was “another uncosted Labour transport policy”.

Labour also plans to reverse the ban on communities establishing their own municipal bus network, which was introduced in 2017.

Legislation for these reforms will be through a Take Back Control Act in the first King’s Speech of a Labour government.

Labour analysis of figures published by Traffic Commissioners shows the number of bus routes in England has fallen from 17,394 on March 31 2011, during the first year of the coalition government between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, to 10,941 on the same date last year.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh, who will visit Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire on Friday to set out the plans, 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.”

Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, a trade association for bus and coach operators, said: “We welcome Labour’s greater focus on bus, and the sector is looking forward to working with them on the details of their proposals.

“Long-term investment in buses and measures to put them first on our road network are essential.”

Mr Holden said: “This is another uncosted Labour transport policy where ordinary people will have to pick up the bill.

“They want bureaucrats to run bus services instead of bus companies and, with no mention of funding, it’s council taxpayers who will end up paying.

“Typical Labour: more tax, more officials, no improvement for working people.”