The Need for an Integrated Transport System and Accountability

“ Communities should have the power to be able to regulate transport in their area through Transport Forums.” Cllr Mick Lerry
“ Communities should have the power to be able to regulate transport in their area through Transport Forums.” Cllr Mick Lerry

Britain’s public transport network suffers from a lack of affordability, accountability and integration. In particular, local communities do not have as much influence as they would like over transport, particularly the vital bus and rail services on which many depend. Bus deregulation outside has left transport authorities with no ability to control fares or plan a coherent network of routes. The structure of the rail industry that resulted from privatisation has left a lack of accountability with communities unable to influence local services.

Cllr Mick Lerry said: “Labour understands that there are challenges facing communities as they seek to improve the affordability, accessibility and accountability of local rail and bus services, including:

• The need for greater accountability and control over local transport services.

• Increased integration of local bus and rail services.

• Ensuring that local transport is affordable.

• Enabling door to door journeys to be made through integration, and support for cycling and walking.”

In particular, passengers would benefit from the ability of a transport authority to introduce daily, weekly and monthly fare caps across local rail and bus services.

The case for a Transport Forum

“Communities should have the power to be able to regulate transport in their area through Transport Forums. The routes frequency and effectiveness of bus and rails services are of great economic, environmental and social importance to our communities enabling social inclusion, access to work and public services and other facilities as well as easing congestion/pollution. Rather than just being consulted by Somerset County Council on cuts to services”, says Mick.

Labour agrees that reform is needed to remove the barriers that local authorities face to implementing Quality Contracts.

" All funding for bus services should be delivered through accountable transport authorities " Cllr Mick Lerry
” All funding for bus services should be delivered through accountable transport authorities ” Cllr Mick Lerry

Cllr Mick Lerry said: “In respect of buses, the use of ‘Quality Contracts’, made possible by the Local Transport Act 2008, introduced by the previous Labour Government is a real opportunity to repair some of the damage done by deregulation and give more control to communities. They would also give local authorities the power to set affordable prices.”

In future, all funding for bus services should be delivered through accountable transport authorities and used to secure a better deal for tax-payers and fare-payers from operators.

Most investment in transport is delivered through Network Rail and the Highways Agency and there is scope for giving communities a greater say over how this funding is allocated. Too often, decisions on local schemes are made in Whitehall, with little or no role for transport authorities except to lobby, which itself consumes time and money.

Integrated ticketing

The devolution of local rail services and new powers to regulate buses will enable local transport authorities and partnerships between them to plan a coherent local transport network. It opens up the potential for regionally branded networks, with integrated ticketing and timetables.

However, to make a reality of the new regional transport strategies, it is essential that more of the funding for investment is also devolved.

A proportion of the Highways Agency budget should be used to build separated cycling infrastructure, including separated cycle ways and safer junctions and road design, which Labour has supported.


Cllr Mick Lerry – Leader of the Labour Group on SDC

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset
Mobile: 07775905080




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Alan Bond
Alan Bond
9 years ago

This is long overdue. Back in 1986 we in the bus industry predicted the present situation would be the result of privatisation and de-regulation and meanwhile people are having to put up with a very poor transport network while bus operatrs cherry pick the most profitable services. Over the same period the working hours of busmen have increased by about 10% while wages have fallen on average about 33% in real terms with many busmen on the national minimum wage. The disparity in wage rates across the country is greater now than it has ever been and with the demise of late evening services, buses are provided mostly between 7 am and 7 pm. On that basis a three shift pattern of working is no longer possible and far too many shifts are of about 11, 12 or 13 hours duration. The fact that drivers often only work four days a week does not mitigate the fact than shifts of this duration are not conducive to good health or safe operation despite what the so called ‘experts’ tell us. Wasteful competition does not help either, as tendered services nearly always go to the firm that offers the lowest wages and the longest hours. The model to be aiming for of that of TfL in London where the level of service and the operating hours and fares are properly regulated to maintain a decent service for the travelling public. The fact that First have pulled out of London tells us much about their greed for profits rather than their commitment to providing a proper public service. The latest burden on busmen (and lorry drivers) is the nonsensical ‘Driver Certificate of Professional Competence’ which forces all bus and lorry drivers to undergo at least 35 hours training every five years in order to maintain their right to drive for hire or reward. In the road haulage industry it has led to an estimated shortage of 60,000 drivers and the CPC regulations don’t come fully into force for them until next year. In the bus industry many highly experienced drivers are being forced to give up their licences because they canoot afford the cost of this additional training even once let alone every five years. As an ex PSV driving instructor I can say from personal experience that since this requirement has been compulsory for bus drivers the standard of driving has begun to decline while at the same time, employers are using it as a excuse to tie drivers into their jobs where the company has paid for their training. This has serious ramifications for Trade Union negotiations as drivers under this kind of blackmail are unlikely to back up industrial action due to the threat of losing their jobs and having to pay back a large sum of money into the bargain. There are a lot of things wrong with the bus industry that urgently need attention, and action should have been taken long ago to stop these bus operators holding local authorities to ransom over bus subsidies, a serious omission of the Tony Blair years.

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