Simon Lightwood MP: “It’s time to fix Wakefield’s broken bus system”
Simon Lightwood MP writes: Under the Tories, up to 7,000 bus routes have been lost across England and fares have risen twice as fast as wages. In West Yorkshire, we have seen over 13 per cent of our bus miles lost in the last five years alone.
Last October, I was proud to join the Shadow Transport team as a shadow minister leading on buses. This has given me a real platform to speak up for the areas that have been left behind by successive Tory cuts to our bus services.
Wakefield is a prime example of this. Cuts to our buses have left people with no confidence that their bus will get them to work, to school, or to the shops, without delays or cancellations.
This has particularly affected our rural areas like Crigglestone, Netherton and Newmillerdam which have been almost completely cut off from nearby towns and cities.
That is why I have stepped up my campaign to: “Save Our Buses”.
In this next stage of my campaign, I want to hear from you about your experiences of using Wakefield’s buses. Whether that be constant delays, squeezing onto a packed bus with standing room only, or a cut to the bus route that you once relied on. With this feedback I can continue to build a detailed picture of the impact that cuts to buses have had on the people of Wakefield, to help me to hold bus operators and this Tory government to account.
In West Yorkshire, we have already seen what Labour in power can do for our buses. Last year West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, introduced ‘Mayor’s Fares’, capping single fares across West Yorkshire at £2. Tracy is also continuing the work towards a franchising model in West Yorkshire, which would allow communities to take back control of their buses.
Under a Labour government, working with our Labour councils and Mayors, we would give communities the power to set the routes, fare structures and services, so that they work in the interests of local people. The reforms we are proposing, by removing the legal hurdles to franchising and lifting the ban on municipal bus ownership, would be the biggest reform to Britain's buses in 40 years.
Buses are the most used method of public transport in England – with 2.8 billion journeys made in 2021/22. Yet it has often been an afterthought for this Conservative government, who have held communities like ours back by leaving our bus networks in the hands of private operators.
Britain is one of the few countries in the developed world that gives private operators, like Arriva and First, the level of power to slash services and hike fares overnight. We need to hold them accountable and show that our communities are not going to stand for a broken bus system that leaves them with little say over the transport services they rely on.
To have your say on bus services in Wakefield please visit my website and share your experiences with me: https://www.simonlightwood.org.uk/bus.