Southport bus concerns as fares soar and passengers decline under Tories, says Labour’s Liz

1st February 2019

New analysis from Labour reveals how bus fares are set to soar over the next few years, while at the same time private companies operating bus routes are raking in billions of pounds.

Official Government statistics reveal that since 2010, fares have risen more than twice as fast as wages while passenger numbers have plummeted.  In the North West passenger numbers are on course to be 18% per cent lower than they were when the Tories came to power.

The report also reveals that bus routes across the country are also projected to fall by over 5,000 by 2022.

Liz Savage, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Southport, says the town has already been hit by a number of route closures and she fears for service provision under the Conservatives:

“The Tories said privatisation would improve buses in the North West but private bus companies are running services into the ground, while raking in billions of pounds in profit.

“Passengers in Southport and the surrounding areas face a toxic mix of rising fares, cuts to services and reduced access. To go just a couple of miles into town it can now be cheaper for a couple of adults to get a taxi.”

“In the last decade, we have seen the withdrawal of services like the 42, 48 and others, as well as reductions across services.” 

“The 44 route from Formby, for instance, serves the hospital; Meols Cop retail park area and the college amongst others but is a service whose problems can cause much difficulty for local residents.” 

“Places like the Kew Estate now are ill-served and have long-abandoned bus stops on Folkestone Rd that are simply memorials to a time when bus routes were more designed to serve the needs of the community, not the financial interests of shareholders.” 

“It’s similar in places like Shirdley Hill and Haskayne which makes shopping in or commuting to Southport more difficult, while locally there have also been reductions in early morning services and to some schools. 

“Travelling on our buses, it also looks like a lot of the local fleet also needs some serious investment and I understand there are definite reliability issues for some operators.”

“Labour’s City Region Mayor and the combined authority-led Bus Alliance are trying to tackle issues and encourage improved services but it would be far easier to address, and far better for those such as the elderly and young who rely on buses to get around, if services were once again in municipal hands.”

The new research reveals the state of the bus services commuters are facing nationally: 

·        In England, average fares are set to be 53 per cent higher in 2022 than in 2010 in real terms

·        Elderly and disabled passenger numbers in England are set to fall by nearly 20 per cent.

·        This comes at a time of growing profits for private bus companies. English bus operators have made a total of £3.3 billion in profit since 2009/10.

Liz Savage says Labour has “plans to fix our broken down bus industry” by allowing local authorities to form their own bus companies by removing the Conservative Government’s ban and extending the powers to re-regulate local bus services to all areas that want them. She continued:

“For too long the bus industry has put profit for a few before millions of passengers. A future Labour Government will change that. Labour will protect pensioners’ free bus passes, improve disabled access to services and introduce a new free pass for under 25s.”

“In short, it will be a service focussing on what best serves the interests of our communities, not the interests of shareholders.”