On the 30th Anniversary of bus deregulation in the UK, today, Wednesday 26 October, which gave the power to bus companies to decide what services to run, the level of fares to charge & which vehicles to use West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield, has reiterated his call for changes to the Buses Bill.
Cllr Wakefield said: “If it’s the Government’s intention that decisions about bus services should be made at a local level, some of the restrictions in the Bill, currently passing through Parliament, need to be lifted.
“We broadly welcome the provisions for Combined Authorities with elected mayors to adopt powers for franchised bus services provisions set out in the Bill but we are supporting an amendment that would remove the restriction on us establishing bus companies should we choose to do so.
“At this stage, West Yorkshire Combined Authority has no plans forming a bus company and is committed to working with local bus operators, but there could be situations in the future, after due diligence, it could be seen as necessary or desirable to start one. This might be as an ‘operator of last resort’ where no other company is able to serve an area, or to facilitate a community transport service.
“There are good examples across the UK of local authority-owned bus companies providing very effective services so it doesn’t make sense to restrict the options available.
“We are also concerned that non-mayoral Combined Authorities could be left needing to apply to the Secretary of State for franchising powers.
“Buses are by far West Yorkshire’s most-used form of public transport, with local people making over 180 million journeys made on them every year. They connect those people to jobs, training and opportunities and provide vital support to the local economy, growth and job creation.
“Just this week, research carried out Greener Journeys, by KPMG and the University of Leeds’ Institute for Transport Studies has showed that improving local bus services boosts employment and income and helps to reduce social deprivation.
“The Bus Services Bill is ‘a-once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to provide a strong legal framework for the operation of buses in West Yorkshire” which is why I have written to local MPs urging them to support amendments to the Bill.”