Buses are better in public hands
Only 9 municipal bus companies around the UK survived Thatcher’s disastrous deregulation. Because these bus companies don’t have to pay dividends to shareholders, they can invest more into improving local services.
This makes them incredibly popular, with Nottingham City Transport, Reading Buses and Lothian buses all regularly winning awards.
The power of public ownership has led Reading to have the best passenger numbers outside London, with a 40% jump in just 6 years! Talk about levelling up.
If the Reading model of public ownership was rolled out across the whole of Great Britain, it would save well over £500 million a year.
And in times of crisis, public ownership can also help insulate the public. In Northern Ireland, the operator Translink, owned and operated by local people, has just frozen fares to protect people from hikes in fuel costs.
Even the government agrees!
On the 15th of March 2021, Boris Johnson unveiled his flagship National Bus Strategy aimed at starting a “bus revolution” as part of the levelling up agenda.
According to these plans to “Bus Back Better” (the official name of the National Bus Strategy), the Government now believes the ban on municipal ownership is “ripe for review.”
A year has passed: so where is the review? If the ban was ripe for review then, any further delay and England’s buses will wither on the vine!
If the Government really wants to help level up the country’s buses, it’d put people over profit and review the ban on publicly owned bus companies.