Manchester mayoral candidate backs bus franchising

 

Andy Burnham: ‘The public has been subsidising a poor service’

 

Andy Burnham, the Labour MP for Leigh and the contender considered to be the frontrunner to become Greater Manchester’s first metro mayor in May, has pledged to push ahead with the introduction of London-style bus franchising if elected.

Commenting after the Bus Services Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons last week, Burnham issued a strongly-worded warning to bus operators in Greater Manchester and criticised their track record.

He claimed that powers to introduce bus franchising in the Bill would “call time on a 32-year failed Tory experiment”.

“Deregulation of the bus services has been a complete and utter disaster for the travelling public,” Burnham continued.  “Fares have gone up, service quality has gone down and the system is chaotic. Services are chopped from areas which need them and buses are nose-to-tail on lucrative routes.

“The public has been subsidising a poor service and time is up on it, basically. I’m not putting all the bus operators in the same bracket but I’m serving notice on the companies that if I am elected things will not be going on as they have been.”

As part of his campaign to be Greater Manchester’s first elected mayor, Burnham has pledged to tackle the growing issue of congestion in the conurbation. Although he has ruled out some form of congestion charging, the Leigh MP has said he will investigate options for introducing High Occupancy Vehicle lanes and roll out segregated cycling routes. Burnham has also pledged to look at introducing a London-style cycle hire scheme.

He also supports Transport for Greater Manchester’s desire to take over the management of the conurbation’s rail stations from Network Rail and train operators, saying many are “cold, dreary and uncomfortable”.

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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