Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake has backed a campaign to ‘take control of our buses’ by opposing, on the 30 year anniversary of bus deregulation, the government ban on new public bus companies
The government wants the Bus Services Bill, currently being debated, to include clause 21 which would stop English local authorities from setting up new municipal companies.
The clause was defeated in the House of Lords but is expected to be introduced again in the Commons. We Own It asked MPs to show they support bus passengers and oppose the clause by taking part in a photoshoot. We Own It is also asking bus passengers to send their 'bus selfies' and explain why they want public ownership to be an option for local authorities.
The Transport Act 1985 was implemented on October 26th, 1986. Since deregulation, fares have risen well above inflation and many routes have been cut.
While buses are privatised in most towns and cities across the UK, there are 12 local authority-owned bus companies, for examples in Edinburgh, Nottingham and Blackpool. In 4 of the last 5 years, local authority run buses have won Bus Operator of the Year at the Bus Awards. Buses in London are run on a different model, with Transport for London planning bus services and private companies tendering to run them.
Tom Brake MP said:
“Polling from We Own It shows that 57% of the British public think local authorities should be allowed to set up new public bus companies. It is clear that the government are out of step with public opinion on this issue.
Success in places from Edinburgh to Blackpool show that local authorities can run bus systems effectively and they should absolutely have the option to do so.”
Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It said:
"It's absurd that after 30 years of the failures of private bus companies, the government is ruling out new public ownership of buses. It's time to take control of our buses and run them for people not profit. All councils should be not just allowed but encouraged to follow the lead of the public ownership success stories in Nottingham and Reading."
Baroness Randerson, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson in the Lords said:
“The Government says this Bill is designed to give local authorities more power over bus services in their area. It is therefore totally contradictory to include this mean-minded and rather spiteful Clause to remove a power that Councils have had up to now. I can envisage, for instance, that a rural council might want to set up a small bus company of their own to save the last remaining bus services so vital to rural life.”