'I'll bring buses back under public control' says South Yorkshire mayoral contender
One of the contenders to become South Yorkshire's first elected mayor has vowed to bring buses back under public control if he wins.
Richard Caborn is seeking selection as Labour's candidate to challenge for the new job of Sheffield City Region supremo, who is due to be chosen by voters this May as part of the devolution deal.
The former sports minister and Sheffield MP today announced plans to re-regulate the area's buses if he is elected.
He claims doing so could herald a return to the days of cheaper fares as well as improving timetables and redrawing routes to better connect poorly-served communities.
"For too long our buses have been run for the profit of the operator and not for the benefit of passengers. Deregulation has been an unmitigated disaster and, as mayor, I will work with councils across South Yorkshire to bring our buses back into public control," he said.
"Many people across South Yorkshire rely on a good bus service and what they get from the private bus companies at the moment quite frankly isn't good enough. We need big changes to services in our region and this will be a priority for me. Better transport is also a key part of growing our economy.
"New powers are available, which will allow South Yorkshire to create a more efficient and affordable bus network, taking us back to the days of cheaper bus fares, with the added opportunity to better link services with trams and trains."
At present, bus companies in South Yorkshire are free to compete over the most popular routes. But a franchised system, like that overseen by London's mayor, would put buses back under public control, with private operators contracted to provide services.
Mr Caborn said he hopes to use new powers under the Bus Services Act 2017 to re-regulate buses and introduce a single set of standards across all services.
Councillor Jack Scott, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for transport, endorsed Mr Caborn's mayoral campaign and said he backed his 'bold' vision for public transport.
"Many people in Sheffield travel by bus and, at present, passengers are getting a raw deal," he added.
"Quite simply, fares are too high, buses are too infrequent and vehicles are too polluting.
"We need real action. That’s why I believe these new available powers to re-regulate bus services must be implemented urgently and in my view, Richard is the right person with the experience to deliver this.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis and Sheffield councillor Ben Curran are also vying to become Labour's mayoral candidate.