Monday, 27 September 2010

Bus services under threat

At a time when climate change is high on the agenda, increasing the use of public transport is surely essential. So it is hard to believe that government policy could mean massive cuts in bus services in the West Midlands.

But both unions and management at National Express are claiming that spending cuts could mean a loss of £20 million, leading to a 10% cut in services and a 10% increase in fares.

Apparently the bus companies currently pay less for their fuel because they are providing a public service. The loss of the grant they get looks set to have a major impact on bus services.

It really is crazy to reduce bus services and force people to rely on cars when the world faces such a threat from global warming. This kind of upside down thinking, though, is what we’ve come to expect from the ConDem government. 

Although I very much want to see bus services maintained, I was struck by the comment from the National Express chief executive a few months ago. According to the Express and Star he said the firm’s “entire profit margin would be wiped out” if the grant was withdrawn. Losing their 6% profit apparently means the inevitable loss of bus services.

You do have to wonder whether we could provide better and cheaper bus services if we weren’t subsidising the profit making activities of private companies. But that really would turn the world upside down for the ConDems and the free market fundamentalists.