Margaret Greenwood MP has called on the government to come forward with the funds that are desperately needed for public transport systems to make them affordable and reliable and to ensure that they meet the needs of passengers.
The MP for Wirral West was taking part in a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on funding for Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) in the North West.
Transport authorities across the country are waiting to learn their funding allocations for their BSIPs having submitted them late last year.
Margaret Greenwood said in the debate that local transport authorities “need to know as soon as possible how much they are getting so that they can put their plans into action.”
The government said recently that it has set aside £1.2 billion in funding for the plans.
However, analysis by the Confederation of Passenger Transport has suggested that more than £7 billion will be needed to fully deliver the measures that local transport authorities have included in their plans.
This has led to concerns about there potentially being a huge funding gap between what local transport authorities want to deliver and the funding that the government is making available.
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has asked for £667 million from the government for its BSIP. At the heart of the plan are measures to improve affordability, reliability and the environmental impacts of bus services.
Margaret Greenwood also used the debate to pay tribute to the work of local Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram for the work he and his team are doing to ensure that bus services in the Liverpool City Region are on the way to being publicly controlled again. She said that “services have suffered” since the Conservatives deregulated buses outside of London in the 1980s.
She also highlighted that, since 2010, more than 200 bus services have been lost across the Liverpool City Region and that her constituents in Wirral West have recently been impacted by a reduction in the 471 service which runs from Heswall to Liverpool via Irby.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Reliable bus services not only connect people with friends, family, work, services and leisure opportunities, they also have an important part to play in addressing the impact of climate change and the issue of air quality.
“When a bus route is removed or services are reduced, local people suffer and so does the local economy. We need a public transport system that is designed to serve the needs of communities.
“The government has said it will set aside £1.2bn for Bus Service Improvement Plans, however this falls well short of the £7bn that is needed to fully deliver the measures that local transport authorities have included in their plans, according to Confederation of Passenger Transport.
“The government must urgently come forward with the funding that local transport authorities need for their Bus Service Improvement Plans so that people can benefit.
“I am delighted that leaders on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority recently voted unanimously to confirm franchising as the region’s preferred future model for running the bus network and services.
“It is great news that, thanks to years of hard work locally, bus services in the region are on the way to being publicly controlled again.
“The Conservatives’ deregulated buses outside of London in the 1980s and services really suffered as a result.
“Under the current operating model, private bus companies set routes, ticket prices and timetables. It is a system designed around profit, not passengers, in which services can be withdrawn at short notice if they are not profitable enough.
“The agreed change to the operating model would allow the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to specify the network, control fare policy and drastically improve ticketing.
“We need to see the ambition that has been shown locally backed by government funding.”
Image: Mitchell Johnson