Jeremy Corbyn has insisted Labour’s new policy to reverse cuts to 3,000 bus routes in England and Wales will not “clobber” motorists.
The party said the £1.3 billion per year policy would be funded by revenue from Vehicle Excise Duty.
Despite the Conservatives claiming that Labour would have to “clobber motorists with tax hikes and slash funding for road repairs”, Mr Corbyn said he would “not be clobbering anybody”.
Today we're announcing funding of £1.3 billion per year to reverse the cuts and expand bus services. pic.twitter.com/0rGC03652P
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 25, 2019
Launching the new policy in Nottingham on Thursday, Mr Corbyn said: “What we’re doing is trying to help the whole community by ensuring there’s good public transport.
“We’ve moved on a bit since Margaret Thatcher once said anyone on a bus over the age of 25 is a failure.
“I think people on a bus is a success.”
Analysis by the Campaign for Better Transport shows more than 3,000 bus routes have been cut back or withdrawn since 2010, amid a 45% reduction in local authority bus budgets.
Addressing the laughter from some MPs after raising the issue of buses in Parliament, Mr Corbyn said: “There was an intake of breath, particularly from Tory MPs, it was bizarre.
“I raised the question of buses because everybody needs to get around and a lot of people need buses because they haven’t got cars.
“A lot of people just laughed because MPs… live in a slightly different bubble where the only transport they use is trains or taxis.
“Buses to them are just something that block up the road. They’re not. They are an essential form of transport.
“So I was happy to raise it because I feel very strongly about it.”
JUST ANNOUNCED: Labour will bring back bus services lost to Tory cuts. On board? Share this 👇 pic.twitter.com/CbCFnVm28U
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) April 25, 2019
Department for Transport figures show the number of local bus passenger journeys in England fell by 85 million or 1.9% to 4.36 billion in the year ending March 2018.
Free bus passes for off-peak travel are a legal entitlement for people aged over 65, or those with a disability.
Commenting on the Lords committee suggesting stopping free bus passes for pensioners to use the money for the younger generation, Mr Corbyn said: “No. We’re going to keep bus passes for pensioners.
“We’re going to keep them because they are the right thing to do to encourage and enable older people to get around, but there has to be a bus and train service where appropriate to provide for that service.
“I think the sense of liberation of older people being able to travel anywhere, to get out more, to – obviously hospital appointments and things like that – but also visiting family friends is very important.
“Loneliness is also a big problem, particularly for older people. A good transport system helps to reduce loneliness and improves community integration.”