I am very pleased to hear that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is opening a consultation with local residents regarding the franchising and re-regulation of bus services in the area. This is good news for the environment, local democracy and anybody who uses public transport.
This franchising scheme would mean that bus services would be brought under the control of the local authority, allowing it to control which companies get the contracts for bus routes. This is the system in place in London, and it means that profits from the system are reinvested into transport, rather than just lining the pockets of shareholders. In the long-term, this is a much more sustainable option for Greater Manchester that safeguards our transport system for the future.
Even more importantly, if this consultation leads to the creation of a franchised system, transport companies will be more accountable to their customers. At the moment, private operators that have cornered the market do not truly have to answer to customers – they are the only bus routes available, so they will not lose substantial profit as their consumers still need them to get from A to B. They run only on routes which are profitable, leaving some communities without a bus service at all. With a new system in place, failing bus companies can have their franchise stripped by the local authority if they are failing residents. This will make bus companies far more aware and sensitive to the needs of their customers, which will improve regularity, conditions and timeliness, lest they lose their franchise.
Finally, an effective and responsive public transport system is good for the environment. A more effective transport system will increase uptake, which means a higher proportion of vehicles on the road are carrying large numbers of people, which helps to offset the carbon footprint and be more energy efficient. Ultimately, good public transport reduces the need for cars, and this is a vital battle in the war against climate change and ecological destruction.
I sincerely hope that you will engage with this consultation and see the value in the proposal. This will make big business more accountable, create a more effective public transport system and provide long health economic and environmental health to the region.