The councillor in charge of transport in Bristol has urged the West of England metro mayor to bring buses into public control. Bristol Labour is calling on the West of England Combined Authority to look at bus franchising as a way to fix the region’s struggling public transport.
Labour Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport at Bristol City Council, said parts of the city had been “left without a bus route entirely”. Revealing statistics about the sharp decline in bus services, he said franchising or public ownership of buses was now needed, reports the Bristol Post.
It comes as Bristol Live is running a campaign for better buses in the city. Statistics shared by Cllr Alexander show bus routes declined in western England by 43 per cent since 2010, losing 1,187 services. However, these figures cover a wide area from Cornwall all the way to Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Dan Norris, the Labour metro mayor of the West of England, previously said franchising was “on the table”, although this was disputed by campaigners. He also raised concerns about the high cost and length of time to introduce franchising.
Cllr Alexander said: “Under the Conservatives wages are falling, taxes are higher than at any point in living memory and our public services — from the NHS to local bus services — have been run into the ground. Bus services are the lifeblood of communities all over Bristol, but every year, thanks to the Tories, more and more are cut off, hitting the local economy and holding people back.
“Communities like Stapleton and Ashton Vale are left without a bus route entirely, and communities like Brislington remain severely under-served. In a time when we’re encouraging the use of public transport to lower carbon emissions and clean up our air, this simply isn’t good enough. Sadly, both myself and the metro mayor have limited powers to tackle this.
“Instead of the government hoarding power in Whitehall, we need to see transport powers and finance devolved to regions and cities, so decisions can be made by the politicians closest to the people they represent. Doing so would give us the ability to build a bus network Bristol could be proud of. Labour has a plan to build a better Britain. We will put passengers first by allowing communities to take back control over their bus services.”