BSOG devolution commended at Parliamentary Reception

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Louise Ellman

Event included updates from Norman Baker, pteg and the Transport Select Committee

The pteg Parliamentary Reception took place at the House of Commons last Tuesday (March 5), hosted by Transport Select Committee (TSC) member Graham Stringer MP.

Speakers at the event included TSC Chairman Louise Ellman, pteg’s David Brown and Norman Baker MP – the latter albeit by a pre- recorded video link.

Stringer kicked off the reception with a good-natured joke about the Transport Minister, stating he actually “understands transport, which is dangerous”. He added that, despite being in opposition, Baker is “a

Graham Stringer

good Transport Minister; he is passionate about the industry”.

Baker apologised for his absence and gave an overview of what the DfT has done and is doing for the industry. He said: “We are in a period of change with our localism agenda and we are putting economic growth at the heart of it. This includes investing across all modes of transport.”

He cited the £19m investment in the BRT scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham as an example, adding: “These investments show how serious the government is about encouraging growth.”

He also spoke briefly about the Better Bus Area (BBA) funding, with Sheffield being the first scheme to be set in stone (CBW1077). “Local Authorities have long asked for BSOG to be devolved,” he said. “I am now throwing down the gauntlet to the transport authorities.”

He confirmed applications for BBA funding are due by June 21.

Ellman highlighted what the TSC will focus on in the following months and gave her views on the bus industry. The TSC’s next inquiry will be on the accessibility of public transport for disabled people.

Ellman believes investment in infrastructure is essential to help lift the economy out of the mire.

She reiterated that the bus is the Cinderella of public transport, as while it is the most-used form, very few people who don’t use buses consider them.

David Brown, who has recently been confirmed as the new head of Merseytravel, outlined the role of PTEs, that being offering policy advice to both local and national politicians and making the case for public transport.

On the devolution of BSOG, he said: “We have lobbied hard for greater control and devolution of BSOG is a step in the right direction. It will now be for PTEs to respond to that challenge.”

Finally, Brown also spoke about pteg’s new report into the full benefits of the urban bus to the tax payer.

pteg claims the bus industry provides multiple and overlapping economic, transport, social and health benefits. In PTE areas alone, bus networks are estimated to generate over £2.5bn in economic benefits by providing access to opportunities, reducing pollution and accidents and improving productivity.