COLUMN: ‘Community suffers from cuts to bus service,’ says Jon Trickett MP

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett.
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett.

With everything that’s going on in Parliament, local issues often get overlooked. One thing that many people find especially irritating is cuts to our bus services.

Buses are a lifeline for many people.

They connect people in the villages in our area, and all of us have at one point or another have been reliant on catching the bus.

Buses are a vital link for the young, allowing them to visit friends and get to and from school on time. They also help older people live active and affordable lives. A lot of people don’t have a car, and it’s the poorest who use buses the most.

The Tories have cut over 3,000 bus routes since 2010. Across Yorkshire and the Humber, the number of bus journeys made each year has fallen a staggering 47million in the same period.

Removing bus routes directly affects people’s lives.

It can make it a real challenge for people to get to school or to work, or to an urgent hospital appointment.

It also cuts people off from being able to see friends or relatives. So the bus cuts especially affect many among our elderly population, who are also going to be further worse off by the Tories’ decision to scrap free TV licences for over 75s. But it’s not just older people, is it?

The 496 bus between Wakefield and Doncaster was scrapped a year ago and this has caused problems for people of all ages. Just recently the 249 school bus from Upton to Minsthorpe Community College was also cancelled, disrupting the lives of students and parents who relied on this service to get to and from school. I have written to the company which ran the service and to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to find out just why the 249 was cancelled, and I’ll be posting an update on my Facebook page when we get to the bottom of this decision.

Another problem is the cost of bus travel, which has gone up.

This summer Arriva announced a price rise in tickets. This adds to the increase in bus fares since 2010, a fact that is often hidden behind discussions of the dramatic rise in rail fares. The current system is not working. We need to rethink the way we manage bus services and we need to see them as a kind of glue which helps to bind people together.

This is why Labour will completely reverse Tory cuts to bus services since 2010, and in addition to reinstated services, we will fund as many new bus services. Labour will invest £1.3 billion of revenue funding per year for bus service reinstatement and improvement.

One thing you might not know is that Conservative Government banned councils from setting up their own bus companies, run for and by local communities.

It’s ridiculous. We will provide support to authorities setting up their own bus companies. A Labour government will stop this privatisation of bus services.

It is a policy that has led to consistently rising fares and bus market monopolies that do not work for most people.

I believe that buses are a vital part of our public infrastructure. They allow people to live busy and fulfilling lives and they connect us as a community.

I am sure that most people would agree that bus services should be there to serve the community, and not purely for the private profits of a handful of big companies. People shouldn’t have to worry about being lonely or unable to get where they need to be, at a price everyone can afford.

That’s why I’m proud of Labour’s policies on buses.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to push back when our services are threatened. Our area, and the rest of the country, deserves nothing less.