Labour promises councils powers to start new bus services


Councils will be given more powers to start new bus services if Labour wins the next general election, the party has promised.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh vowed to boost the UK's ‘failing’ network and accused the Government of overseeing a ‘spiral of managed decline’.

She said that under Labour, town halls will have greater powers to open new routes and reduce fares, while a ban on setting up publicly-owned bus companies will be lifted.

The latest figures show that in 2010 there were an estimated 17,600 routes across England, but this has fallen to just under 11,000.

Meanwhile fares have gone up by an average of 51% in the same period.

Speaking on a visit to Stoke-on-Trent, Ms Haigh said Labour would streamline the process to set up municipal bus services and give every transport authority the chance to franchise services across their areas.

‘As a first step we're saying we want to take back control of our buses and the most important thing is getting the actual system right because clearly it's failing.’

She added: ‘We have to accept that public transport has to be a proper public service that serves communities, and there have to be routes that are not necessarily commercially viable but that is service that people deserve and should be delivered to them.’

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