Pauline Gaunt, Head of Public Affairs at the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), has responded to a Guardian article which compared the London bus market to other parts of the UK.
The article, which was entitled ‘It’s not only Londoners who rely on buses and trains,’ stated: “Since deregulation, bus usage outside London has declined by more than a third, and fares in many rural areas are rising far above the annual rate of inflation. In the capital, however, usage has risen by 98% since 1986.”
Published in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to target buses during Prime Ministers Questions on 4 July 2018, the article claimed the difference is that London’s buses are regulated, subsidised and integrated with the rest of its transport system.
Pauline’s response said that the article ignored the steep decline in patronage before 1986, which deregulation ‘has actually stemmed.’
She said: “This highlights that when bus services are under the control of cash-strapped local authorities, fares are higher, the market is less stable, services are being lost, and passenger satisfaction rates are lower.
“It is very simplistic and misleading to compare the London bus market to other areas. London has a range of factors in its favour, not enjoyed elsewhere, which make patronage growth almost inevitable.
“These include a large and growing population, millions of commuters and tourists, low car ownership, car restraints including the congestion charge and high parking charges, an existing comprehensive public transport network and, not least, a very large public subsidy of more than £400m to pay for the services.
“Evidence shows that where bus operators and local authorities work together in partnership, services are able to thrive and passengers benefit from more reliable and punctual services.”