Labour pledges to end bus service 'postcode lottery' as services outside London have 'collapsed'

Labour said bus services outside of London had collapsed. Credit: PA

Labour has pledged to end the "postcode lottery" of bus services by speeding up the franchising process.

Since deregulation in 1985, the party said services outside of London have "collapsed".

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the plan would kickstart a revival of bus services across England.

The plan aims to create 250 million more passenger journeys per year and allow local transport authorities to "take back control."

In addition to removing barriers to franchising, greater flexibility over funding, safeguarding of vital routes, and support for public ownership are proposed.

Louise Haigh announced the policy. Credit: PA

Ms Haigh said: "Four decades of disastrous deregulation of Britain’s buses has robbed communities of a say over the vital services that they depend on, instead handing power to unaccountable private operators who have slashed services."

Labour said the plan won’t require additional central government spending but will ensure better value for money for the taxpayer.

Transport Minister Guy Opperman MP claimed the plan would force huge council tax hikes.

He said: "Across the country Labour has no plan. That means, as always, they will put up your taxes and pick the pockets of hardworking people.

“Because Rishi Sunak and the Government took the long-term decision to cancel HS2 phase 2, we have been able to extend the £2 bus fare cap and invest £1 billion in bus services across the Midlands and the North, delivering on our plan to invest in the transport links people rely on.”

Manchester and London are pointed to as the blueprints for successful franchising of bus services, and the party said it aims to achieve this elsewhere within two years.

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) senior research fellow Maya Singer Hobbs said franchising should unlock better bus services.

Ms Hobbs said: “Buses play a far more important role in people’s lives than many commentators acknowledge, so we welcome signs that Labour recognises this.

“We are pleased to see plans for further devolution of bus franchising and ownership to mayors and local authorities, who are best placed to deliver services for their regions – something IPPR has long argued for.“

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