Following the Prime Minister’s comments regarding local authorities’ responsibility for buses, The Transport Secretary suggested that Greater Manchester’s bus network won’t be fully franchised until 2023
Theresa May suggested in a recent PMQs that local authorities are responsible for buses.
During the debate, the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn questioned the Prime Minister about the deregulation of the bus industry and the impact on local communities, the vulnerable and those on a low income.
He also discussed bus fares and the role local authorities and metro mayors play.
The response from the Prime Minister suggested that MPs were asking the wrong questions; she suggested that local authorities were the ones to ask.
“On the point about the buses, I would merely point out to him that actually I think we should look at the responsibility that local authorities have up and down this country for the buses.”
She added in defence of the decline in bus usage: “What we have seen across the country, is that as people’s working habits are changing we are seeing less usage of buses around the country, but this is something that we work with local authorities on.
“There are many responsibilities that local authorities have in relation to buses and I suggest that he asks some of those local authorities what they are doing about the buses in their own area.”
Following the debate on 4 July, the Transport Secretary claimed the Central Manchester region could be five years away from a franchised bus network.
In a parliamentary exchange on bus services, Chris Grayling suggested Mayor Andy Burnham may not be able to meet his promises regarding bus services until 2023.
Graham Stringer, Labour, member of the Transport Select Committee and former leader of Manchester City Council, said: “In a deregulated bus system, local authorities have no control whatsoever on routes and fares.
“The amount of funding for tendered services has been cut by 45%. How, then, can the Prime Minister justify her statement that local authorities should be improving bus services?”
Mr Grayling in response said: “What I’ll do is give a lesson to Labour mayors about the reforms we made in the last parliament that gave franchising powers to them.
“And he might like to ask the question to the mayor of Greater Manchester why it is that his promise on bus franchising appears years away from happening.
“The last estimate I heard was it might just about be complete by 2023, way after his first term of office and way after he made a commitment to do it.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The hypocrisy of the Transport Secretary knows no bounds.
“He has the brass neck to suggest Labour mayors are delaying bus reforms when we are still waiting for his department to put all the necessary regulations in place.
“And once again he reveals his complete lack of focus on transport in the north by getting his facts wrong. Nobody in Greater Manchester is working to the timetable he suggests.
“Greater Manchester is moving as quickly as possible and quicker than any other city-region to implement bus reform.”