Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley has told the private bus operator Arriva, “enough is enough.” The MP has written to the company calling for a meeting to discuss their proposed bus service cuts.
He said, “The private companies are busting a gut to make as much money as they can by slashing services to the routes in some of Birkenhead’s poorest and most deprived areas prior to Liverpool City Region re-regulating the buses. But as well as bringing them back under municipal control, we urgently needed to stop Arriva’s scorched earth policy now.”
Mick Whitley continued, “Both Bidston St James and Rock Ferry wards have been identified by the Local Trust as ‘left behind neighbourhoods. Both are in the top 10% of deprived communities nationwide. And while the cuts will have a terrible impact across the constituency, this smacks of a deliberate move by Arriva to hit the poorest areas hardest.
”The privatisation of our buses by Thatcher was supposed to introduce a better service and lower fares. This was what she promised. But like so many of her so-called reforms the whole project was built on the twin pillars of Tory lies and private profits. And we have one of the most disjointed, unreliable, and expensive bus services in the western world as a result.”
The Birkenhead MP pointed out, “In England, more than 3,000 local-authority-supported routes have been cut or reduced in last twenty years and fares have risen by 403% since 1987. That is a total failure of the market to provide a service that my constituents need to get to work, to get to hospitals and schools or go out. The few bus routes left cost an arm and a leg for people already suffering from the worst cost of living crisis in years.
”This is yet more proof that the Tory promise to level up is a sham. It is yet more proof that public services should not be in private hands for a reason and the clue is in the name – public service. They are there to meet a public need not to satisfy private shareholders’ greed.”
Mick Whitley was especially angry about Arriva’s proposed cuts given that bus routes in Birkenhead have already been hit hard by cuts and reduced timetables.
Mick said, “It is outrageous for Arriva to reduce an already paltry bus service even further, particularly in the evenings, on Sundays and on bank holidays.
“People living in Beechwood, Noctorum, Rock Ferry and Prenton are feeling increasingly isolated. For residents spotting a bus in these areas is now more difficult than bird watchers catching a glimpse of the white-tailed eagle in the wild. I am saying no to the Arriva cuts.”