GMB call on councillors to use Bus Services Act powers
GMB call on local authority councillors in the South East and in Dorset and Wiltshire to begin implementing the Bus Services Act to halt decline in the service. “The deregulation of the bus industry outside London has led to the withdrawal of bus services across the land and to less frequent and reliable services,” says GMB Southern
GMB, the union for general workers, have called on local authority councillors to use new powers introduced by the Bus Services Act, to halt the decline of local bus services brought on by government cuts. A new study by GMB Southern has shown that the unreliability of local bus services due to recent cuts, have caused a decrease in bus journeys per head of population since 2009/10.
The Bus Services Act, which passed last year, has presented local authorities with new powers to bring about change. Greater ticketing, fare and route accessibility was introduced by the Act, however it is up to local councillors to implement such changes within their own services. [See notes to editors for copy of the Bus Services Act]
Every year some 4.4 billion journeys are made by bus in England with around half of these taking place in London. Buses carry nearly 60% of all journeys on public transport in Great Britain, compared to just over 20% being carried by rail. The bus is far more important in terms of number of journeys. The problem is that because these journeys can be relatively local, it would seem that they are considered unimportant.
In England 2009/10 the number of passenger journeys per head of population was 88.4, in 2016/17 this number was 80.3, a decrease of 8.1 journeys per head of population.
In the South East there has been a decrease of 0.4 journeys per head of population. The greatest decrease has been seen in Windsor and Maidenhead, where in 2009/10 the number of journeys per head was 15.9 and is now 11.0, a decrease of 4.9. Other local authorities in the South East with a large decrease in bus journeys per head of population include; East Sussex -4.2; Medway with -4.2, Kent -4.1, and Isle of Wight -3.4.
In the Dorset and Wiltshire area there has been a decrease of 1.3 journeys per head of population. The greatest decrease has been seen in Swindon, where in 2009/10 the number of journeys per head was 59.4 and is now 53.7, a decrease of 5.7. Other local authorities in the Dorset and Wiltshire area with a large decrease in bus journeys per head of population include; Dorset with -4.5; Wiltshire with -1.7, and Bournemouth -1.3. In Poole there was an increase of 15.4 passenger journeys.
The figures for 19 local authorities in the South East and 5 local authorities in the Dorset and Wiltshire area are set out in the tables available for download on the right. These are from a new study by GMB Southern Region of official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for 5 local authorities in the Dorset and Wiltshire area. They compare the passenger journeys per head of population between 2009/10 and 2016/17 followed by the changes in numbers.
Paul Maloney, GMB Southern Region Secretary, said: "It should be recognised that although the numbers of bus journeys per person is declining buses are the most frequently used form of public transport.
"Day in and day out they link thousands of people up and down the country to jobs, schools and shops.
"However, government spending cuts are having a devastating effect on our vital bus services. Across the country vital buses are being axed by local authorities as they make financially agonising decisions of where to cut spending.
"The deregulation of the bus industry outside London has led to the withdrawal of bus services across the land and to less frequent and reliable services.
"Local bus services have seen funding slashed by £75 million in five years, while the distance travelled by supported services has halved in the same period, showing how devastating these cuts have been. In very few places has there been any attempt to quantify the impact of these and other cuts and the costs they place on other public services.
"A bigger slice of the cake needs to go towards buses. As tax revenues now match current public spending it is essential that as revenues grow that more resources are made available to halt and reverse the decline in bus journeys across the region.
"The Bus Services Act has given some new powers to local authorities to intervene to improve local bus services. GMB Southern call on all councillors to use these new powers to the full extent to halt the decline in bus services."
Contact: Michelle Gordon 07866 369 259 or GMB Press Office 07970 114 762
Notes to Editors
Bus Services Act 2017 (27 November 2017)