Lincolnshire councillor says new Transport Secretary has 'missed the bus' for an easy headline

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The new Labour government’s proposals to revolutionise public transport have missed the bus according to a senior county councillor.

Transport Secretary Louise Haigh kickstarted a “bus revolution” today (Thursday) as she promised to support local leaders to deliver better buses up and down the country.

Under the Government’s plan Local Transport Authorities across the country will be empowered to take back control of buses after years of decline since deregulation of services outside London since 1985.

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They claim bus services in England’s regions outside London have collapsed, with two billion fewer annual bus journeys in 2023 than in 1985, almost 300 million fewer miles driven by buses in 2023 than in 2010 and 6,000 fewer buses on the road between in 2023 than in 2010.

Coun Richard Davies says the new Transport Secretary has 'missed the bus' for an easy headline.Coun Richard Davies says the new Transport Secretary has 'missed the bus' for an easy headline.
Coun Richard Davies says the new Transport Secretary has 'missed the bus' for an easy headline.

However, Coun Richard Davies, executive member for Transport at Lincolnshire County Council said: "It's easy to come up with a slogan for improving buses, but perhaps the new Transport Secretary should do some research into the work we have been doing in Lincolnshire where, since last year, we have been putting the Bus Service Improvement Plan funding to good use in providing a raft of improvements to local bus services.

"Indeed, all around the county, we have been working closely with bus providers that have seen enhanced timetables, more locations and routes available and even the re-introduction of services like the Lincoln night time service.

Ms Haigh pledges to support every community to take back control of buses through franchising or public ownership.

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She has met with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to discuss how the area’s Bee Network can be replicated across the country to deliver better services, grow passenger numbers and drive opportunity to under-served regions.

The Transport Secretary pledges to create and save vital bus routes up and down the country, calling time on the system of deregulation. The plans will also bring an end to the postcode lottery of bus services by providing safeguards over local networks across the country.

Ms Haigh said: “Buses are the lifeblood of communities, but the system is broken.

“Too often, passengers are left waiting hours for buses that don’t turn up – and some have been cut off altogether.

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“Change starts now. This new Government will give local leaders the tools they need to deliver better buses up and down the country.

“Our plan will create and save vital bus routes by giving every community the power to take back control of their bus services through franchising or public ownership.

“We are already seeing how the Bee Network is delivering for people across Greater Manchester – we will ensure every community can enjoy the same benefits.”

Coun Davies countered: “"I'm sure that with everything we have been doing with bus provision for Lincolnshire residents and visitors, plus our excellent Callconnect on-demand travel service, the Transport Secretary will probably want to visit Lincolnshire to see how things can be done.

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"When she gets here she can get around on a bus or two and really experience what a wonderful rural county Lincolnshire is for herself instead of sending out messages from the very urban area of a city-based Manchester.

"I'm afraid that she's missed the stop for an easy 'bus revolution' headline around here as ours began some time ago right across our county."

Graham Vidler, CEO for The Confederation of Passenger Transport commented: “The industry stands fully behind the objectives of growing the nation’s vital bus network and improving passengers’ experiences.

“We look forward to working hand in hand with the government to deliver change which benefits passengers across the whole country and drives swifter progress towards the UK’s climate targets.”

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