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Labour's Plan for Better Buses


It was fantastic to be in Birmingham recently for the launch of Labour’s Plan for Better Buses, alongside our brilliant candidate for West Midlands Mayor, Richard Parker, Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and our Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh.  

 

Since the Tories deregulated buses in 1985, bus services in England’s regions outside London have collapsed, with 1.5 billion fewer annual bus journeys in 2019 compared to 1985, 300 million fewer miles driven by buses per year since 2010 and thousands of bus services cut since 2010.  

 

Labour’s plan, announced in Birmingham on 11th April 2024, could create and save up to 1,300 vital bus routes and lead to 250 million more passenger journeys per year compared to today’s failed system. Labour would also end the postcode lottery of bus services by providing safeguards over local networks.  

 

Labour’s clear five-point Plan for Better Buses would be the largest reform to Britain’s bus services in 40 years. In the first term of a Labour Government, we will pass legislation to:


  1. Empower local transport authorities and reform funding: by giving local leaders more control and flexibility over bus funding and allowing them to plan ahead to deliver their local transport priorities. 

  2. Allow every community to take back control of their buses: by removing barriers that currently limit bus franchising powers only to metropolitan mayors. 

  3. Accelerate the bus franchising process: by supporting local leaders to deliver better buses, faster. 

  4. Step in to safeguard local bus networks: by providing more accountability over bus operators and ensuring standards are raised wherever you live across the country. 

  5. Support public ownership: by removing the Conservatives’ ideological ban on publicly owned bus companies and building on the success of award-winning public bus services still in operation. 

 

Labour Mayors are already doing pioneering work to break down legal and logistical hurdles to franchising. In Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s Bee Network has made history by introducing new franchised services and reversing decades of deregulation. And passengers across Wakefield will soon see similar improvements thanks to Tracy Brabin’s decision in March 2024 to pursue franchising across West Yorkshire. But whilst Labour mayors like Andy and Tracy have been leading the way, they have both been forced to overcome lengthy and costly barriers and slow, unnecessary bureaucracy to deliver these policies, thanks to decades of deregulation and mismanagement from the Tories.

 

That’s why accelerating the franchising process is such an important part of Labour’s plan. Labour’s accelerated approach to bus franchising could see it achieved as much as four years quicker than the six-year process in Greater Manchester, and six months earlier than the current process other combined authorities are facing.

 

Reliable, affordable and regular buses are the difference between opportunity and isolation for millions of people across the country. But with a Labour Government in Westminster and a Labour Mayor in West Yorkshire, we can kickstart a revival of bus services across England.

 

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