Labour's bus policy criticised
Chris Nice from the Confederation of Passenger Transport responds to Labour's bus policy recently announced by Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher
“Whilst Labour's policy proposal to allow not for profit organisations to run local bus services might look attractive on the surface, it does not really stand up to scrutiny - as many, small and in many cases family run bus and coach companies who have been serving their communities for years would testify.
No one would doubt the value of the community transport sector but where will they find the capital for mainstream bus services if they are not allowed to make a return? What will the unions think when secure posts with successful companies are replaced by voluntary labour and minimum wage jobs with hand-to-mouth CICs?
Bus drivers in the commercial bus industry have a rigorous and continual regime of training laid down by the EU, something that drivers in the community transport sector are simply not required to undertake. Commercial operators are continually investing in high quality, modern, environmentally friendly vehicles with the latest on-board technology to make the bus journey easier and more enjoyable for their passengers. Labour seems to be fixated on clobbering the large operating groups but there are also a huge number of medium sized and small operators in the commercial market. And let us not forget that 81% of bus mileage outside London is run purely on a commercial basis with no subsidy whatsoever. CPT believes commercial operators deserve credit for keeping the buses running on routes that have been abandoned by cash-strapped local authorities.
What do passengers prefer? Ask bus users in Witney who recently described their local CIC operator as “diabolical”. “It wasn’t a good service and I don’t think one person had a good thing to say about it” said another user.”
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