All parties commit to maintaining free bus passes for pensioners and greener buses in the future
The Labour Party, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have each released their manifestos for the 2017 General Election, taking place on June 8.
The Conservatives said they plan to invest £40bn into transport improvements across the UK over the rest of this decade.
The manifesto stated: “We will continue to develop the strategic road network, providing extra lanes on our motorways and improving key routes while also paying attention to parts of the country left behind because of poor transport connections.
“We will continue to invest in roads to fix pinch points and open up opportunities for new housing and local growth.
“Our ambition is for Britain to lead the world in electric vehicle technology and use. We want almost every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050 – and will invest £600m by 2020 to help achieve it. We will invest in more low-emission buses, as well as supporting audio-visual displays for bus passengers and community minibuses for rural areas poorly served by public transport.”
The party said it would introduce significantly discounted bus and rail travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person is deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs.
While winter fuel allowance payments would be means-tested, all other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, would be retained.
The party said it would publish more information about public services online, including information about public transport, such as bus routes.
The Liberal Democrats said they would pass a Green Transport Act, introduce an air quality plan to reduce air pollution and support the manufacture of low-emission and electric vehicles. This plan will include a diesel scrappage scheme and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025.
The party would extend ultra-low emission zones to 10 more towns and cities. All private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas would be made to run on ultra-low-emission or zero-emission fuels within five years.
“We will also reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure, including universal charging points,” the manifesto read.
The Lib Dems would also introduce a new young person’s bus discount card for people aged 16–21, giving a two-thirds discount on bus travel.
While the party would withdraw eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment from pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%), it would retain the free bus pass for all pensioners.
The Lib Dem manifesto claimed the party would ‘halt the decline in bus services’ and carry out a review of bus funding and bus policies. It would give principal local authorities the power to run, commission and regulate the bus network in their area, and provide local authorities and communities with the powers to improve transport and ticketing with the ability to introduce network-wide and smart-ticketing systems.
Under the ‘Dignity for Pensioners’ section, Labour promised: “The Winter Fuel Allowance and free bus passes will be guaranteed as universal benefits.”
Labour said it would “retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards.
“Across the country we will enable councils to provide first-class bus services by extending the powers to re-regulate local bus services to all areas that want them, and we will support the creation of municipal bus companies that are publicly run for passengers not profit. Labour will introduce regulations to designate and protect routes of critical community value, including those that serve local schools, hospitals and isolated settlements in rural areas.”
Labour also promised to include public transport fares in the list of areas that VAT would not be extended to, and said WiFi coverage would be expanded to include public transport.
The manifesto also stated: “We will refocus the roads building and maintenance programmes, connecting our communities, feeding public transport hubs and realising untapped economic potential.”