Here is our response to the Mayor and Transport for Greater Manchester proposals for bus system reform.
We strongly support these proposals as the best option available now for securing the urgent and massive shift away from private motorised transport that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clear up air pollution, improve mobility and access for all, and make the city region more liveable.
We do note the following though.
1) The projections on bus usage are insufficiently ambitious. We need this massive modal shift from private motors yet even with the proposed changes, TfGM still thinks there will be a longer term reduction in bus usage. This is not good enough.
2) Franchising is not a silver bullet, just the best that the current pro-private capital law on buses allows. We would prefer to see the eventual public ownership of buses. This is the norm over much of continental Europe and was here before the thatcher government’s deregulation and privatisation offensive in the 1980s. Areas such as Brighton, Edinburgh, Nottingham, that held onto their municipal operators have demonstrably better systems than the privatised market chaos elsewhere.
3) Because the powers for re-regulation are differentially available depending on which part of the UK’s incoherent local government system applies (Metropolitan mayors have greater powers), cross border services will still be problematic, requiring agreements with neighbouring operators and councils to secure effective change.
4) The incumbent companies, led by Stagecoach via OneBus, have proposed a voluntary partnership. These companies have had decades to improve things and have failed, instead raking off excess profits. Why should we trust a system that leaves power in their hands?
5) We encourage TfGM to compliment the new arrangements with robust citizen and worker involvements, probably in a joint governance council to secure the maximum citizen influence over this “direction of travel”.
Read our detailed response here. You have until 8 Jan to make your own views known. Do show your support for the London-style franchising model, as a step on the way to a properly integrated public transport system. HERE is a link to a short handout explaining the proposal and how to respond. And HERE is a link to Better Buses quick response form. Or just send a short email to email@example.com.