Minister tells MP bus services will be improved

Minister tells MP bus services will be improved

By Michael Upton | 19/11/2020

Minister tells MP bus services will be improved

 

MP SARAH Champion has called for the Government to come good on a promise to “level up” Rotherham’s bus services.

Speaking after receiving a pledge for support for public transport from minister Baroness Vere, the Rotherham MP said she would “keep doing everything that I can to fight for the service Rotherham deserves”.

Ms Champion teamed up with the Advertiser earlier this year to launch a Better Buses campaign.

In a satisfaction survey run by the MP, which was completed by almost 2,000 people, the borough’s bus services were rated at just 3.3 out of ten overall, 2.74 for reliability, and 2.63 for punctuality.

Ms Champion wrote to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, last month, to highlight how the service was “not fit for purpose” and saying the survey findings showed “a clear publication frustration”.

She noted three-quarters of areas outside London had seen a fall in spending on “non-commercially viable routes” in the 2010s, while fares had increased by almost a fifth.

The MP said she backed a demand by the Urban Transport Group, which represents England’s largest transport authorities, for “long-term and stable capital funding” and for the devolution of spending powers for transport cash to city region authorities.

Baroness Vere, the minister responsible for buses, said the government would do “everything we can to support bus services not only in Rotherham and West Yorkshire but also the wider country as a whole”.

She said a National Bus Strategy for England was being drawn up and the Urban Transport Group’s recommendations would be taken on board.

“The strategy will focus on the needs of passengers so that more people want to use the bus and set out how national and local government and the private sector will come together to meet the needs of local communities,” she said.

Baroness Vere pointed out the Prime Minister had in February promised fresh funding for public transport outside London which would “boost bus services by including higher frequency services, new priority schemes to make routes more efficient, more affordable, simpler, fares and at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses”.

But she noted future spending was dependant on the Government’s Spending Review next week so she could not provide details of long-term funding.

Ms Champion said: “Rotherham’s bus users have been badly served for far too long.

“If we are to encourage people away from their cars, we need an effective, reliable and cost effective bus service.

“The only way that this will happen is with sustained, substantial funding and investment from central government.

“The Government needs to listen carefully to the concerns I have raised on behalf of constituents.

“It can’t keep give warm words about investment in the north but fail to address the serious problems that affect our local public transport network.

“I will keep doing everything that I can to fight for the service Rotherham deserves.”

After launching our campaign, the was inundated with letters and comments complaining about bus services.

Almost 30 per cent said buses had failed to arrive on a daily basis and 25 per cent more than once a day.

Only one per cent believed the service to be reliable, with half describing it as very unreliable and less than a seventh said it offered value for money.

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