Labour’s Passenger Power campaign targets bus regulation
The Labour party has upped the ante in its move towards a new era of bus regulation with the launch of its Passenger Power campaign in England this week. The campaign is led by shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher who says: “We want to see a fairer industry, more balanced towards the needs of passengers rather than the chief executives of the big bus companies.
The campaign is being rolled out in every English region outside London, targeting key battlegrounds ahead of the general election next year.
In a Labour blog, Dugher says: “Labour’s ‘Passenger Power’ Campaign launched today will lead to significant change across England. Only Labour has a commitment to legislate to give greater control over local bus services to cities and county regions.
“Through the ability to determine routes, set fares and integrate bus services with other forms of public transport, local areas will be able to provide better services at one clearly understood price.”
Labour’s campaign is highlighting data which it says shows that the number of bus miles has decreased since 2010 [presumably figures for England outside London], and that “fares have increased five times faster than wages at the same time as the bus companies’ revenues and executive bonuses have continued to rise”.
Labour’s newly-established position on bus policy was clarified at the end of October with a major speech from leader Ed Miliband who pledged to give local councils control over bus services as part of his English devolution plans.
The new campaign by Labour suggests that the party has identified bus policy as a potential vote-winner in some of the key constituency battles, and means that the industry is likely to have a much higher profile in the coming election than in recent ones.
Some industry chiefs, including Stagecoach’s Martin Griffiths, have already condemned the new approach from Labour with very strong rebuttals, but whether the bus industry will want to line up against the current opposition in what may become a high-profile political campaign is less clear.