As the Government is consulting on the content of its Bus Bill, the Co-operative Party is continuing its campaign for a People’s Bus.
The party argues that at national level, buses fail to receive the attention they deserve while cuts to bus services impact on local communities and exacerbate existing inequalities.
To address this, the Party is calling for greater support for not-for-profit community operators as well as fighting for new rights for communities to safeguard specific bus routes against closure.
It is also working with councillors to ensure they can take advantage of new devolved powers over local transport.
“Two in every three journeys taken by public transport are by bus,” said the Co-op Party. “In vulnerable communities, reductions in bus services can be the final blow, making it difficult or prohibitively expensive for jobseekers to reach employment opportunities and training.”
Fewer, less regular services, particularly in rural areas, can affect the ability to attend medical appointments and affordable supermarkets, and increases social exclusion and isolation, while decreasing independence, especially for older people.
Launched as part of the Party’s commitment to “lead a new era of co-operative activism”, the campaign for a People’s Bus has received endorsements from Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood, and Sarah Boyack, spokesperson for Climate Justice in Holyrood.
“Buses are vital for our villages, towns and cities but the status quo just isn’t delivering,” said Ms Greenwood. “Passengers and communities need more of a say over bus services. The Co-operative Party are right to highlight the role that not-for-profit transport can play in a fairer industry.”
The party also points towards HCT Group, a community transport operator that has raised £10m in social investment to expand further.
HCT Group has its origins in Hackney Community Transport, founded in 1982, and is the world’s leading transport social enterprise, providing over 20 million passengers trips each year. Its operations range from running red London buses for TfL through to social care and school transport.
“By reinvesting all profits in keeping fares low and routes open, not-for-profit operators like HCT are maximising the social value of buses, enabling people to access work, education and public services and tackling social exclusion and loneliness. In a very practical way, these community transport operators are reducing inequality in the areas they serve,” said the Party.
As the campaign continues, the Co-operative Party wants to see more emphasis and effort placed on developing the community transport and not for profit sectors, local councils reviewing their procurement strategies to give not-for-profit operators equal treatment, and Community Asset legislation expanding to take into account local bus services.
- To find out more, visit: act.party.coop/buses