South Yorkshire Mayor slams the government by saying the bus fare cap is ‘sticking plaster’ at best
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This morning the government confirmed that the temporary £2 bus fare cap in England (excluding London) had been extended until October 31 and when it runs out a new cap at £2.50 will be introduced which will be in place until November 2024.
The scheme is paid by the government’s £500m funding and Transport Secretary Mark Harper confirmed an additional “£300 million to protect vital routes and improve services until 2025”.
Oliver Coppard, South Yorkshire’s Mayor, told the Local Democracy Service that the current measures are “at best a sticking plaster” and there is an alternative.
Mr Coppard said: “Today’s announcement will not stop further cuts to our broken bus network. The government is saying there is no alternative to the managed decline of our buses. I fundamentally disagree. We need a partner in Government who will match our ambition for South Yorkshire’s public transport network, rather than inflicting further damage on our communities.
“Here in our region we lost 15% of our network in the last year, and this announcement threatens at least another 10% of our buses; routes that are a lifeline for thousands of people.
“But there is an alternative. We’re doing what we can to save services. We are urgently working through the legal process that will allow us to decide if we can radically change how buses are run in South Yorkshire, through a move to franchising. And we are taking our trams back into public control and public ownership. The clue is in the name; public transport should be a public service.
“Repeated, short-term extensions to bus funding are at best a sticking plaster, preventing our bus system from bleeding out. I believe that the root of our problem is the decision to take buses out of public control nearly forty years ago; a problem our communities desperately want us to fix.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to fix that fundamental problem.”
The bus fare cap will be next reviewed before it runs out in November 2024.