Devolution in the spotlight

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Devolution of local transport decisions in urban areas was in the spotlight at last week’s pteg Parliamentary reception.

Although buses received small mention at the reception ‘Ready for the devolution challenge; PTEs/ITAS and the future of urban transport’, in favour of rail and large infrastructure projects, transport secretary Justine Greening said she travelled on a bus, unlike her predecessor Philip Hammond.

Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton commented on the popularity of devolution. “Everybody across the political spectrum is in favour of devolution – getting decisions closer to the people who either provide services or use services has to make a lot of sense.

“I don’t say this totally without caveats; devolution can mean many different things to different people. Sometimes it means passing on difficult decisions down a lower level, away from central government. Sometimes it means passing on costs and not the benefits to local government or to a more local level.”

Stringer raised the “real desire” of PTEs to get closer to rail franchises while Geoff Inskip, chairman of pteg renewed the call for BSOG to be devolved. “We’ve made the point we’d like to see BSOG devolved to local authorities and ITAs in particular, to ensure we can then work in partnership with our local operators to ensure the funding gets to the right source and gets our objectives achieved in the right way.”

Commenting on a “general desire to make sure our transport strategy works at a more local level as well as a national level”, Greening said: “There is a real need to make sure end-to-end journeys are considered not just modes on their own.

“One of the biggest challenges in transport is it feels like a portfolio which is begging to be disaggregated when actually what you really need to do is make sure it adds up as a whole.

“I was travelling back from Sheffield a couple of days ago and I started off on the train, got onto the tube, got onto the overland and finally finished up on the number 37 bus back from Clapham Junction.”